Over the last decade, the migration landscape in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has changed significantly. By 2022, the region had over 43 million Latin Americans and Caribbeans living outside their countries of origin, with almost a quarter of them residing in other LAC countries. Additionally, the region faces the largest-ever displacement crisis in the Americas. Of the more than seven million Venezuelans who have left their country since 2015, 85% have settled in another country within the region.
In this context, the socioeconomic integration of immigrants is an increasingly high priority on the regional policy agenda. To contribute to this agenda, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have collaborated on this joint exercise that builds on OECD’s previous experience in measuring migrant inclusion in their Settling In series as well as IDB’s expertise in building data around the state of migration in Latin America and the Caribbean, and UNDP’s experience working with national and local governments in the region and its Regional Program.
“How do migrants fare in Latin America and the Caribbean? Mapping socio-economic integration” provides a general overview of the state of socioeconomic integration of migrants in 12 LAC countries as of 2021. It presents a series of quantitative indicators related to the composition of migrant populations, education and youth integration, labor market integration, gender differences, and living conditions. This exercise also includes selected policy indicators that shed light on the regulatory framework within which migrants’ integration takes place.
This joint report focuses on the differences between the outcomes for the migrant and native-born populations within each country for which data are available. When migrants’ outcomes are less favorable than those of the native-born population, it may reflect a failure to take advantage of the opportunities that migration may bring. It might also mean that social cohesion is at stake.
The objective is to provide policymakers in host countries with useful indicators to better understand where the gaps are in terms of migrants’ integration and to help them identify the areas where they should focus their efforts and scarce resources.
As it is the first cross-country analysis of these migrant integration measurements in LAC, the report also serves as baseline measurement of migrant integration going forward. The methodology, again based on the OECD’s Settling In, relies on household survey data that is collected regularly in many countries of the region, and thus provides a tool for monitoring progress on migrant integration, enabling analysts and policymakers to see where gains are being made and where more focused policy interventions are needed.
The data show that the countries of the region each face their own unique challenges in accomplishing the full integration of migrants, but some commonalities stand out. First, in most cases migrants are more concentrated in the working ages, which reduces demographic pressure from aging populations. Migrants are also often more highly educated than the local population, and more likely to be working, formally or otherwise, and working longer hours. All of this means that migrants contribute economically to their host countries. However, in many of the countries for which data are available, highly skilled migrants are more likely to be overqualified for the jobs they can get, compared to the native-born population. Thus, some benefits are being lost.
The review of policies for migrant integration shows that the governments of the region are implementing helpful policies, but that there are still pending challenges. Many countries have undertaken large programs of regularization of migrants, providing access to public services, including public health programs and public education.
The report provides the evidence base for socioeconomic integration. Such integration is a key condition for migrants to improve their living conditions, but also represents a way to enhance their contribution to the economies and societies of their host countries. The report also provides for a benchmarking of outcomes and a mapping of policies, which are prerequisites for identifying areas of co-operation on integration across the region.