Edited by Peter Nijkamp, Jacques Poot and Jessie Bakens
Chapter 15: International financial transfers by foreign labour: remittances from informal migrants
Informal economic activities, such as house cleaning, taking care of the elderly, or childcare, are by now a widespread feature of advanced economies. The demand for low-cost labour creates employment opportunities for undocumented migrants, who readily accept a low wage for long hours of work. For undocumented migrants, finding a job is essential, for two main reasons: firstly, to finance their own needs in the host country, and, secondly, to support their family back home. Although tough rules have been imposed by advanced economies to stem the flow of illegal migrants, this flow has not yet been stopped. Instead, it has encouraged the global criminal economy, especially in the form of human traffickers who bring illegal migrants into developed countries. The Economist (16 October 1999, cited in Jones et al., 2006) indicated that in the late 1990s human traffickers earned L20 billion per year by smuggling over 30 million migrants each year. According to various studies, the total number of undocumented (also called ‘informal’ or ‘unregistered’) immigrants in Western Europe was estimated to have been around 2.6 million in 1991, and this number was forecast to have doubled by the end of that decade (Bodvarsson and van den Berg, 2009). The Netherlands has similarly experienced an increase in the number of illegal migrants. Van der Heijden et al. (2011) have estimated the total number of illegal immigrants for the year 2009.
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