Migration and the Globalisation of Health Care

Migration and the Globalisation of Health Care

The Health Worker Exodus?

John Connell

The international migration of health workers has been described by Nelson Mandela as the ‘poaching’ of desperately needed skills from under-privileged regions. This book examines the controversial recent history of skilled migration, and explores the economic and cultural rationale behind this rise of a complex global market in qualified migrants and its multifaceted outcomes.

Chapter 5: An Overseas Orientation: Towards Migration?

John Connell

Subjects: development studies, migration, economics and finance, health policy and economics, public sector economics, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, migration, public policy, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics, migration, urban and regional studies, migration


Migration is primarily a response to global and regional uneven development, but usually explained in terms of such factors as low wages, few incentives, or poor social and working conditions. Quite different scales reflect different ways of thinking about migration – whether in terms of global economic fluctuations and world financial crises, the activities of international recruitment companies, the poverty of developing countries or the particular motives of families (and individual members of these families) – yet all of these interact. Although the migration of skilled health workers occurs for multiple reasons, there is a remarkable uniformity in the factors that influence specific migration moves, even in quite different regions and contexts (Chapter 6). In some part this is because of the emergence of a global care chain and demand-driven migration. Yet even before migration there is often a basic predisposition to mobility, a product of culture, geography and history as much as economics. This chapter therefore examines attitudes towards employment in the health sector: why people become health workers. Broad influences on employment and migration include incomes, job satisfaction, career opportunities, and social and family reasons. Family reasons, though often neglected, are particularly important since most people only exceptionally make decisions about employment and migration as individuals; rather, they are linked into extended families and wider kinship groups and make decisions in this context. Skilled migrants, however, are more likely than others to be without extended-family ties, because they are more easily able to organise migration opportunities and because they are...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information