Migration and Development in Central America: Perceptions, Policies, and Further Opportunities

The Inter-American Dialogue is pleased to publish this working paper by Manuel Orozco, director of our program on Migration, Remittances, and Development, and Julia Yansura, program associate at the Dialogue. Our aim is to stimulate a broad and well-informed public debate on complex issues facing analysts, decision makers, and citizens concerned about Latin America’s policy agenda.

Orozco and Yansura examine the interplay between migration and development in Central America. Migrants abroad have been a strong source of economic growth for nearly every country in the region, generating significant volumes of remittances and transforming international trade through telecommunications, transportation, and the purchase of  nostalgic goods. Public officials, however, have been largely unable to develop policies that effectively leverage the economic activities of migrants and harness their full economic potential. By analyzing the multifaceted and complex relationship between migration and development, Orozco and Yansura develop a framework by which  governments can better evaluate the migration development nexus and integrate the migrant economy with development policy.

This paper is part of a series of studies carried out through the Dialogue’s initiative on security and migration in Central America and Mexico. The project works with leading think tanks, research centers, and independent journalists in Mexico and Central America on these two pressing policy challenges. Our work seeks to influence the policy and media communities in the United States, Mexico, and the nations of Central America; introduce  Mexican and Central American viewpoints into policy debates and discussions in Washington; and promote fresh, practical ideas for greater cooperation to address security and migration challenges.

This major Dialogue initiative has featured three important meetings. The first, in Washington, focused on the challenges posed by current migration and security crises in the region and examined the prospects for shaping US policy on these issues. The second meeting in Guatemala—featuring special guests, President Otto Pérez Molina and  Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz—addressed increasing criminal violence in the northern triangle countries and cooperative strategies for future action. In October 2012 in Managua, the Dialogue held the third meeting in Nicaragua to compare that country’s security situation to the rest of the region and to examine its unique police model. This paper provides background for the fourth meeting of the initiative in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in November 2013.

We are pleased to recognize the generous assistance provided by the Tinker Foundation for the production of this paper.


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