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Measuring policy coherence for migration and development: A new set of tested tools

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Executive Summary

The PCMD Dashboards: Tools for Taking Stock of Migration Governance

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants explicitly recognize that international migration is a multidimensional reality of major relevance for the development of countries of origin, transit, and destination, and one that requires coherent and comprehensive responses. Considering target 10.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the transversal role of migration in the SDGs—including their emphasis on protecting migrants’ labor rights (target 8.8), reducing remittance transfer costs (target 10.c), and increasing the availability of high-quality and disaggregated data that include information on migratory status (target 17.18)—the Thematic Working Group on Policy and Institutional Coherence of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) created two comprehensive dashboards of indicators to measure policy coherence for migration and development (PCMD).

The relevance of the PCMD dashboards of indicators is reflected in the cross-cutting principles of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which emphasize the need for a whole-of-government approach to ensure horizontal and vertical policy coherence across all sectors and levels of government (para 15). The PCMD indicators can also serve as a way to measure the implementation of core commitments of the Global Compact. For example, an assessment of 15 pilot countries can serve as an initial baseline for progress toward implementing the Global Compact. While the PCMD dashboards are not comprehensive in their coverage of all elements of the compact, a comparison (detailed in appendix D of this report) reveals that their indicators correspond to 21 of the Global Compact’s 23 objectives.

The importance of policy coherence for achieving sustainable development is widely recognized and is now embedded in the SDGs (SDG Target 17.14). It is an approach to ensure an integrated implementation of the SDGs by fostering synergies and maximizing benefits across economic, social, and environmental policy areas; reconciling domestic policy objectives with internationally agreed objectives; and addressing the negative spillovers of domestic policies. For the purposes of this report, policy coherence for migration and development aims to “pursue synergies to advance shared objectives, actively seek to minimize or eliminate negative side effects of policies, (and) prevent policies from detracting from one another or from the achievement of agreed-upon development goals.” Policy coherence with regard to migration is particularly important because migration is a cross-cutting policy issue, extending beyond the regulation of human movement across international borders. PCMD is important overall because:

  • Policy incoherence can increase the likelihood of unfulfilled development commitments and situations in which certain policy objectives become increasingly unattainable.

  • Policies working at cross-purposes can result in financial costs and wasted resources.

  • Incoherence can lead to negative spillover effects and the loss of credibility.

  • A coherent approach can help balance policy trade-offs and foster collaboration and trust among stakeholders, and thus facilitate the harnessing of synergies.

By helping policy makers identify critical policy areas and institutional mechanisms for fostering PCMD, the dashboards are a useful tool for better integrating migration into countries’ strategies for realizing the SDGs and implementing the commitments of the Global Compact on Migration, as well as the Global Compact for Refugees.

What Are the PCMD Dashboards?

  • The PCMD dashboards constitute a user-friendly tool to measure the extent to which public policies and institutional arrangements are coherent with international norms and good practices to minimize the risks and maximize the development gains of migration.

  • Indicators are built on international norms, political commitments, SDGs, and good practices. The SDGs have been integrated into all aspects of the PCMD indicators. The dashboards answer to SDG target 17.14, which emphasizes policy coherence for sustainable development as a key means of implementing the SDGs. Many of the indicators are directly inspired by specific SDG goals, targets, and indicators. And PCMD is a way of measuring well-managed migration policies and migration governance, which are relevant to target 10.7 of the SDGs.

  • There are two distinct dashboards—one from the perspective of countries of origin and the other from the perspective of countries of destination—with separate indicators (except in the area of institutional coherence, where they are common). It is important to stress that any given country can be considered both a country of origin and a country of destination. Forty-eight indicators for countries of origin and 62 indicators for countries of destination measure policy coherence and migration governance. They are categorized by function within five policy dimensions, namely (i) promoting institutional coherence; (ii) reducing the financial costs of migration; (iii) protecting the rights of migrants and their families; (iv) promoting the (re)integration of migrants; and (v) enhancing the development impact of diaspora engagement.

  • The dashboards’ data allow three levels of analysis: (i) within-country, and across countries at the level of (ii) policy dimension and (iii) indicator.

Development of Indicators

The PCMD dashboards of indicators were developed over a period of three years. Steered by experts at the Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Development Programme, and the KNOMAD focal point at the World Bank, the Thematic Working Group engaged a team of researchers at the United Nations University, Maastricht University, and Columbia University to lead the research work.

The initial conceptual work considered existing migration indicators, such as the Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), Commitment to Development Index (CDI), Multicultural Policy Index (MCP), Barriers to Naturalization Index (BNI), Citizenship Law Indicators (CITLAW), Citizenship Policy Index (CPI), Indicators for Citizenship Rights of Immigrants (ICRI), International Migration Policy and Law Analysis (IMPALA) database, the Immigration Policies in Comparison (IMPIC) project, EU “Zaragoza” Integration Indicators, the Migration Governance Index (MGI), as well as KNOMAD work on human rights indicators for migrants. Expanding on these existing tools, the PCMD dashboards include the transnational and development dimensions of international migration and mobility, as well as the perspectives of countries of origin and destination. The indicators were refined through extensive consultations with national policy makers, experts, and representatives of civil society and international organizations. Several dedicated expert workshops, national workshops with select partner countries, and roundtable discussions at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) provided both conceptual clarification and normative legitimacy to the indicators.

To test the conceptual validity of the indicators, 15 countries volunteered to take part in the operationalization of the dashboards. Working with a diverse set of countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America further led to refined, universally applicable indicators that can reflect a high degree of differences in policies, as well as in migration and development challenges. In collaboration with government focal points, data gathered in 15 countries—Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Germany, Jamaica, Kenya, Moldova, Morocco, Philippines, Portugal, Netherlands, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago—and validated by the country focal points reveal important trends and lessons for PCMD.

Promoting Policy Learning

With the recognition that countries face unique national contexts presenting distinct opportunities and challenges—and furthermore find themselves at different stages of policy making vis-à-vis migration and sustainable development— the purpose of the dashboards is not to label governments’ policy interventions as “right” or “wrong” or to rank governments. Rather, it is to help governments:

  • Promote understanding of the links between migration and development in different contexts;

  • Take stock of existing policies and institutional arrangements in various sectors related to migration and development;

  • Consider what policies and institutions may be needed to maximize the positive impact of migration on development, both in countries of origin and destination; and

  • Enable critical self-assessment of degrees of PCMD and identify areas for improvement.

Owing largely to their participatory methodology, the dashboards are intended to be as much about the process as they are about the end-product. Their purpose is thus to create a living tool that can be applied by policy makers across a variety of country contexts to stimulate discussions, both within and between countries. The objective is to identify both institutional structures and policies that may be at odds with a rights-based approach to migration governance framed by a human development perspective. By helping policy makers recognize critical policy areas and institutional mechanisms for fostering PCMD, the dashboards aim to help governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders to assess how well migration is integrated into countries’ strategies for realizing sustainable development and taking steps to advance the SDGs and the objectives of the GCM.

Comparing Policy Coherence across Five Dimensions

Dimension 1: Promoting institutional coherence

The first dimension of the PCMD dashboards assesses countries’ institutional coherence. Nineteen indicators that apply to both countries of origin and destination measure the degree of integration of migration and development strategies, the ratification of migrant-specific conventions and regional agreements, countries’ participation in regional and global fora, and the creation of certain policies and intragovernmental mechanisms, as well as migration data and data reporting.

Based on the normalized scores for all indicators, countries in the sample are placed in one of three performance tiers: top (green), medium (yellow), or bottom (red). Among the 15 initial pilot countries, the average score for countries of origin and destination is in the medium tier. This reveals that many countries have put into place important measures and institutions and have already included migration in key parts of their sustainable development strategies. However, the data also show that more can be done to establish their institutional frameworks for migration and development and fully implement them.

Dimension 2: Reducing the financial costs of migration

The second dimension of the PCMD dashboards assesses the extent to which countries have policies in place to reduce the cost of migration and is represented through six indicators for countries of destination and five for countries of origin. For both countries of origin and destination, indicators regarding a regulation framework for labor migration and recruitment as well as double taxation agreements are included. In countries of destination, indicators consider the cost of pre-arrival integration tests, and in countries of origin, the ease and cost of obtaining a passport.

Among countries of origin and destination, the average indicator score falls into the top tier. These relatively high scores indicate that most countries have policies in place designed to reduce the financial burden of migration. In fact, 80 percent of the pilot countries score in the top tier, with the highest score belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which received a perfect 10-out-of-10-point average. Among countries of destination, none belongs to the bottom tier and Germany and Switzerland obtained a medium-tier average. Among countries of origin, only Kenya scored in the medium tier and Cabo Verde in the bottom tier, indicating that these countries may want to revisit a few of their policy choices on the financial costs of migration.

Dimension 3: Protecting the rights of migrants and their families

Measured by 19 indicators for countries of destination, and 14 indicators for countries of origin, dimension 3 is composed of policies that seek to protect the rights of migrants and their families. The majority of indicators in this area address the set of rights applicable to migrants. Rights covered in the indicators include portability of pensions, political rights, and international protection for refugees, as well as health care, education, consular, and labor-related rights and their outcomes. Their inclusion reflects the fact that migrant men and women are rights-bearers whose rights need to be upheld. This follows from specific migrant rights’ conventions and from protections under general human rights laws. Furthermore, safeguarding migrants’ rights also supports development objectives.

Among the pilot countries, Portugal obtained a top-tier average score, and more than three-quarters (80 percent) of pilot countries scored in the medium range. Based on these scores, which are lower overall than most of the other indicators, there is significant room for improvement for policies designed to protect the rights of migrants. One particularly weak area for countries of destination is that service providers in the areas of health, education, and law enforcement are not allowed to report on the immigration status of the people they serve. The average score for this indicator is in the bottom tier, the lowest score in this dimension for countries of destination.

Dimension 4: Promoting the (re)integration of migrants

This dimension is built on the premise that better-integrated and empowered migrants are more likely to experience positive human development outcomes, and to contribute toward development in both their country of origin and, importantly, in their country of destination. Fourteen indicators for countries of destination and five for countries of origin measured concrete policies relating to the integration of migrants. These include the recognition of dual citizenship and skills, access to citizenship, access to bank accounts, and the right to work and open businesses, as well as the availability of data on immigration, children of immigrants, discrimination, and return migration.

Among the 15 pilot countries, the normalized score in dimension 4 falls into the top tier for countries of destination and the medium tier for countries of origin. Thirty-three percent of the pilot countries received an average top-tier score. All but one of the countries sampled scored in the medium tier or above. This means that most of the sample countries have already made significant strides toward promoting the (re)integration of migrants. However, there are several key areas in which policies could be strengthened or improved, especially with regards to data collection and disaggregation.

Dimension 5: Enhancing the development impact of migration

Emigrants and diaspora actors can have important positive development impacts in their communities of origin (Plaza, 2013). Often a conducive policy and regulatory framework on both ends of the migration corridor can help migrants to fulfill their development potential, if they choose to engage in such projects (Plaza and Ratha, 2011). Five PCMD indicators for countries of destination and six for countries of origin measure concrete policies with regard to enhancing the development impact of diasporas and other key migration and development policies. In both dashboards, countries are assessed on the basis of whether they have exclusive partnerships for money transfer operators and remittance taxes—both of which increase remittance transfer costs, and thus go against the clear objective of SDG target 10.c to lower these costs. Both countries of origin and destination are evaluated for having programs to share and transfer knowledge from emigrants to their communities of origin. The PCMD dashboards further include destination-country-specific indicators on whether temporary absences from the country of destination have negative implications for migrants obtaining long-term residency status or citizenship, and whether these countries have set up skills training programs in migrants’ countries of origin. For countries of origin, the dashboards ask whether governments conduct financial literacy training and provide targeted financial products, as well as support services for diaspora investments.

For this dimension, pilot countries of destination have a high average in the top tier, while countries of origin still have a relatively high average in the upper range of the medium tier. More than half of all participating countries have an average in the top tier, which reflects the prioritization of diaspora-related policies in recent years. In fact, not a single participating country has a bottom-tier average in this dimension. In countries of origin, the weakest indicators were for organizing financial literacy training at the local level throughout the country and providing specific financial products targeting migrants.

What We Can Learn from a Cross-Country Comparison: Spotlight on Key Indicators

A key goal of the PCMD dashboards is the promotion of policy learning in pilot countries, as well as for other countries that may draw inspiration from their policies and institutions. Chapter 4 focuses on a few select PCMD indicators, explains why they matter, and what the analysis of our 15-country panel reveals.

Interagency Mechanism Promoting Policy Coherence

Research on policy coherence emphasizes the importance of multistakeholder dialogues and institutions that promote a whole-of-government approach. For this reason, indicators 1.16 and 1.17 in the PCMD Dashboard measure the existence and attributes of interagency mechanisms, that is, bodies or committees that allow for the consideration of migration (and development) in policy areas beyond those directly related to migration.

Among the 15 pilot countries, 9 have established an interagency mechanism that meets at least twice annually and in which at least two line ministries, as well as local governments, are represented. Two countries have committees that meet frequently but have yet to see widespread participation, and another two countries have mechanisms that meet only once yearly and that could benefit from the participation of additional federal or local authorities. The remaining two countries do not have intragovernmental processes that allow for regular discussions among government agencies.

Regulated and Fair Recruitment

Regulation and oversight of migrant worker recruitment, the involved costs, and the protection of migrant workers from unscrupulous practices are key to migration governance and to achieving the SDGs. High recruitment fees can result in debt bondage ultimately resulting in forced labor. SDG indicator 10.7.1 that assesses whether Member States “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies” (i.e., SDG target 10.7) measures the recruitment costs borne by employees as a proportion of their yearly income earned in the country of destination. Two PCMD indicators measure the extent of such regulation frameworks in countries of origin and destination. Indicator 2.3 assesses whether the country has a regulation framework for the recruitment process in place. The highest score is given to countries that have not only established such a framework but that also implement it at the regional and local levels. The rationale behind this is that implementation at the local level is key to achieving such frameworks’ full potential. Indicator 2.4 then assesses the extent and regulation of recruitment fees.

The average score for both combined indicators among the 15 pilot countries is relatively high. While still in the medium tier, it is only 0.1 points away from the top tier. It is slightly higher for the existence of a regulation framework (top tier) than for recruitment fees for migrant workers (medium tier).

Ban of Child Detention in Countries of Destination

In countries of destination, PCMD indicator 3.13 establishes whether a country has a policy that bans the administrative detention of migrant children and provides alternatives to their administrative detention. Thus, this indicator recognizes that a ban without providing a clear alternative to detention is likely to lead to children being detained in spite of the legal ban. None of the pilot countries obtained the highest score for this indicator, which stresses the need to address child detention in all pilot countries.

Recognizing dual citizenship: All countries in the pilot phase are at least in the medium tier for allowing dual citizenship in the context of immigration (for countries of destination) or emigration (for countries of origin). Of the 15 pilot countries, 12 allow dual citizenship generally; Germany, the Netherlands, and Sri Lanka allow it under a large set of specified circumstances.

Access to the Labor Market in Countries of Destination

The right to employment is not only important to advance the economic independence of migrants and refugees. Working influences a variety of important factors, including planning for the future, meeting members of the host society, providing opportunity to develop language skills, restoring self-esteem, and encouraging self-reliance. Furthermore, relatively well-integrated migrants are best able to contribute to development. For that reason, a set of indicators (4.11–4.14) measures the extent to which different groups of migrants have access to formal labor markets in countries of destination. This includes assessing whether family migrants’ access to the labor market is immediate or dependent upon the status of a family member or otherwise restricted. For students, we assess access to the labor market both during and after studies and capture programs designed to help migrant students integrate into local labor markets after graduation. For refugees and asylum seekers, access is measured depending on whether it is immediate or after a specific waiting period.

For all four indicators among countries of destination, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden are in the top tier. Of these, Germany and Sweden have a slightly lower average score because of certain limitations on asylum seekers. The Netherlands is in the medium tier, reflecting its limitations on both asylum seekers and certain family migrants.

Temporary Return from Countries of Destination

Migrants often have good reasons to return for certain periods of time to their countries of origin. And such returns can have critical development impacts in migrants’ communities of origin. However, migrants may be reluctant to return temporarily if they fear that they may forfeit the permanency of their residence in the host country. For this reason, indicator 5.3 assesses whether migrants’ pathway to citizenship or permanent residency is unaffected by temporary stays out of the country (e.g., three months at a time or cumulatively in a year).

In the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, and Germany, a migrant can reside outside the country for a period not exceeding six months, leading to a top-tier score for these countries. In Sweden, however, travel outside the country is limited to six weeks in one calendar year; any time beyond this is deducted from the period of habitual residence. This results in a bottom-tier score for Sweden.

Return and Reintegration in Countries of Origin

Return migration is often seen as an opportunity for migrants to use the skills and experience they have acquired abroad to achieve positive development outcomes upon return. The pilot countries of origin have a combined average on the low end of the medium tier. Thus, the PCMD analysis reveals that even countries with well-established migration polices can further increase their efforts to collect disaggregated data on return migrants and to establish reintegration programs and assistance for returnees.

Disaggregated Data on Emigrants and Immigrants

Monitoring, analysis, and reporting systems are a building block of PCMD and point to the importance of data as a key input into evidence-based policy making. This is also reflected in target 17.8 of the SDGs, which calls for states to “increase significantly, high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.” Several indicators assess the extent to which governments collect data on emigrants and immigrants.

Of the 15 pilot countries, both countries of origin and countries of destination have yet to improve the data they collect on specific migration issues. The average score of countries of origin is squarely in the bottom tier, while it is in the lower ranges of the medium tier among countries of destination.

PCMD Country Notes

The PCMD dashboards of indicators have been operationalized in 15 countries. Of these, 10 were coded as countries of origin, namely: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Jamaica, Kenya, Moldova, Morocco, the Philippines, Serbia, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad and Tobago. And 5 were coded as countries of destination, namely: Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland. (See chapter 5 for highlights from both sets.)

Policy Coherence, Sustainable Development, and Migration Governance: The Role of Policy Indicators

The PCMD dashboards have the potential to play an important role in countries’ efforts to track progress toward the SDGs. They have particular relevance to SDG target 17.14, which emphasizes policy coherence for sustainable development as a key means of implementing the SDGs, as well as SDG target 10.7, which urges all governments and stakeholders to facilitate orderly, safe, regular, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies. The PCMD dashboards are equally relevant to the deliberations on, and implementation of, the UN Global Compact for Safe, Regular, and Orderly Migration, as well as the Global Compact on Refugees, with its Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. Drawing on the experience of operationalizing the PCMD dashboards of indicators in 15 pilot countries, chapter 6 of this report will discuss the merits and limitations of policy indicators in general and of the dashboards more specifically.

In the end, policy coherence is not just about policies and institutions. It is about supporting the beneficial outcomes of migration, creating opportunities for migrants, protecting their lives, upholding their rights, and mitigating their risks. And it is hoped that the PCMD dashboards will promote such outcomes.