One out of every three Guyanese migrating – UNDP report
Two out of three qualified persons leave
Guyana has an emigration rate of 33.5 percent, and most among those are the country’s university graduates, the 2009 Human Development Report, which was launched yesterday, shows.
The report shows that most of Guyana’s university graduates, and others who gain a tertiary education leave. The percentage is as high as 76.9 percent, the report states.
According to the report, the major continent of destination for migrants from Guyana is North America with 78.6 per cent of Guyanese emigrants living there.
Additionally, Guyana has dropped 17 places on the report’s Human Development Index, moving from a ranking of 97 on the 2007/8 Index, to 114 in the new Index.
The report is published annually by the United Nations Development Programme and this year addresses human mobility and development.
“Migration can be a force for good, contributing significantly to human development,” said UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark. “But to realise its benefits, there needs to be a supportive policy environment as this report suggests.”
The report shows that remittances, which are usually sent to immediate family members who have stayed behind, are among the most direct benefits from migration; their benefits spread broadly into local economies. They also serve as foreign exchange earnings for the origin countries of migrants.
However, remittances are unequally distributed. Of the total US$370 billion remitted in 2007, more than half went to countries in the medium human development category against less than one per cent to low human development countries.
In 2007, US$278 million in remittances were sent to Guyana. Average remittances per person were US$377, compared with the average for Latin America and the Caribbean of US$114.
According to the report, migration can raise a person’s income, health and education prospects. Most importantly, being able to decide where to live is a key element of human freedom, according to the eeport, which also argues that large gains in human development can be achieved by lowering barriers and other constraints to movement and by improving policies towards those who move.
However, migration does not always bring benefits. The extent to which people are able to gain from moving depends greatly on the conditions under which they move. Financial outlays can be relatively high, and movement inevitably involves uncertainty and separation from families. The poor are often constrained by a lack of resources, information and barriers in their new host communities and countries. For too many people movement reflects the repercussions of conflict, natural disaster or severe economic hardship. Some women end up in trafficking networks, lose significant freedoms and suffer physical danger.
Meanwhile, Guyana is ranked 114 on the Human Development Index (HDI) of the report. The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and gross enrolment in education) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity income.
Additionally, Guyana is ranked 48 on the Human Poverty Index 9HPI-1). This index focuses on the proportion of people below certain threshold levels in each of the dimensions of the human development index – living a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living.
By looking beyond income deprivation, the HPI-1 represents a multi-dimensional alternative to the $1.25 a day (PPP US$) poverty measure.
The HPI-1 value of 10.2 per cent for Guyana, ranks 48th among 135 countries for which the index has been calculated.
The HPI-1 measures severe deprivation in health by the proportion of people who are not expected to survive to age 40. Education is measured by the adult illiteracy rate. And a decent standard of living is measured by the unweighted average of people not using an improved water source and the proportion of children under age 5 who are underweight for their age.
The report puts the life expectancy rate in Guyana at 66.5, and also states that 12.8 percent of Guyanese might not live to see age 40. The report states that seven percent of Guyanese are not using an improved water source. In addition, the report points out that 14 percent of children under age five are underweight.