Changed in Migration? Philippine Return Migrants and (Un)Democratic Remittances

In: European Journal of East Asian Studies

Abstract

The link between development and migration has been termed the 'new development mantra'. Studies on the subject have so far mostly focused on economic remittances, and the potential consequences of return migration on democratisation have been rarely touched upon. This article attests the potential of the migration experience to affect migrants' attitudes towards democracy, thus playing an important role in the diffuse support needed for democracies in the stage of consolidation. Based on a survey among 1,000 Philippine return migrants from six destinations, the paper suggests that the migration experience may not only lead to a more critical stance towards the political system of the home country; there are also indicators of lesser support for the principles of democracy when compared to migrants about to leave the country for the first time. The political system of the destination as such seems to be a less decisive factor than the specific freedoms and restrictions experienced by migrants and a potential bias when selecting the destination. The article focuses on return migrants from Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Japan, which showed the most distinctive numbers in support of democracy or changes therein when compared to first-time migrants heading for that destination.

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