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The current recession, expected to be the worst in a generation, is likely to affect international migration and remittances differently than past recessions. In 1973-74 and 1981-82, a rise in oil prices was associated with recession in oil-buying countries and an economic boom in oil-exporting countries, enabling some migrants to shift destinations. The 1997-98 Asian financial crisis did not spread globally, and was followed by a relatively quick resumption of economic and job growth. The 2008-09 recession is most severe in sectors that hire relatively more migrant workers, including residential construction, light manufacturing, and financial and travel-related services. The major question is how severe this recession will be and whether migrants will remain abroad or return to their countries of origin.



Working paper


International Migration Institute

Publication Date




Total pages



international migration, remittances, recession