Reproduction Migrations in the Asia Pacific

A Joint Seminar of the Fertility and Reproduction Studies Group and COMPAS

Industrialized countries in the West have attracted an ever larger proportion of immigrants since the late 1990s despite their decline in the share of global GDP. In contrast, a number of fast developing countries in Asia, particularly China, and in South and Southeast Asia, have experienced rapid increase in outward mobility even as they become new centres of the world economy. Why do the global distributions of migration and production mismatch? This seminar aims to test a hypothesis that reproduction—activities that maintain and reproduce human life on a daily and generational basis—is becoming a main driving force of migration. By “reproduction migration” (RM) we mean the movement of people for the purpose of maintaining and reproducing life, both individual and collective. Such migration is closely bound up with people’s strategies and motives at successive life course stages. Migration provides a means by which people seek success in: childbearing and rearing; marriage; education; employment in care-giving at adult ages; and access to care-givers and affordable living standards in late life. Rates of RM are increasing much faster than that of productive labour. Advanced countries attract immigrants because, as global centres, they provide greater concentration of opportunities for realizing these strategies. The seminar is also a step toward developing a larger hypothesis: that RM is becoming a critical source of economic value and will shape the world division of labour in the 21st century. By so doing we hope to nuance the currently dominant narrative that economic power is shifting from the West to the East.

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