Jan 24, 2022

A comparative study of the impact of COVID-19 on migration

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Historically, many large-scale plagues had substantial impacts on the global economic structure and population migration, while the influences could stay even longer. Thus, we would like to evaluate the long-time impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on migration.

Literature about the theme of COVID-19 and migration has mainly focused on two topics: (a) how people’s spatial mobility has caused the pandemic; (b) the immediate impact of the pandemic on migration during the pandemic. Few research in this area was conducted in international comparative perspectives. We will focus on a longer-term impact on migrants’ economic opportunity and social integration, also on their physical and mental health status and corresponding health service accessibility in different geographical and institutional contexts. There is great potential for our program to make a significant and impactful contribution.

We will conduct the research project in the context of both developed and developing countries. Our study cases include China, Brazil, Ghana, the UK, and the Netherlands. We will review the different policy reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic among governments worldwide and evaluate the influence on migrants. We expect the outcome to provide new information and knowledge which is conducive to facing the post-pandemic challenges, helping to achieve sustainable economic and social development, and to improve human well-being.

Our program lead is Lidan Lyu, an associate professor in the Department of Demography, Renmin University of China. She is an experienced researcher on migration. The project partners are based in Asia (Lidan Lyu & Fei Wang), Europe (Yu Chen, Nava Hinrichs, and Melissa Siegel), Africa (Reginald Ocansey, Jonathan Odame, and Adobea Yaa Owusu), and America (Gisela P. Zapata), and each geographic location represents a typical migration pattern. These regions have experienced different patterns of occurrence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also a huge difference in policy responses for the pandemic for those governments. Demographic, cultural, geographic, and institutional diversity gives us distinctive opportunities to compare the heterogeneous impacts of the pandemic on migration.

With help of a WUN Research Development Fund award, our international and multi-disciplinary network of team members will develop innovative and trans-disciplinary research. The internationally comparative research scope and the global team will be a significant strength in attracting future funds.

More importantly, we hope there be a long-term impact in policy agendas to help migrants get access to better social services and benefits, and also help the economic recovery and establishment of a more social safety system in the post-pandemic world.