How can sectoral policies make the most of return migration?
To answer this question it is important to understand why migrants decide to return home. According to the IPPMD household survey, about half of the return migrants came back because they preferred to be in Georgia than in another country (Chapter 3). Only a minority considered employment and investment opportunities in Georgia as a motive for returning.
Household vulnerability is a key push factor for migration. Until these vulnerabilities are addressed, migrants are unlikely to want to return home. Not only can policies that reduce risk, such as agricultural contract programmes, provide more incentives for emigrants to return, they can also help make their return sustainable (OECD, 2017). Economic and political stability in the home country also makes return migration more attractive. More stable countries may have more resources to spend on public social welfare, for example.
The IPPMD data found little evidence of any policies being linked to return migration, likely because policies that would help are not generally accessible enough, or because risk persists in the country. On the contrary, the IPPMD data provide evidence that households involved in risk-protection programmes are less likely to have return migrants. Only 18% of migrant households that had benefited from or were covered by crop insurance, government farming contracts and cash-for-work programmes had a return migrant, compared to 29% of households that did not benefit from such programmes (Chapter 5). This may be because the risky conditions that preceded the emigration of the household member still exist, and these programmes may not lower the risk enough for people to want to return. The agricultural sector is inherently risky; households that benefit from such programmes may be those most exposed to risk. In addition, current emigrants may have plans to move out of the agricultural sector, meaning reduced risk in the sector for their households are not linked with the decision to return to Georgia.