This paper does not seek to re-affirm or draw a new definitive conclusion on whether migration does or does not act to reduce inequality. Instead, it seeks to make three key points. First, given the range of different types of migration, and the varied economic, social, cultural and political contexts within which migration occurs, any overarching conclusion about impacts on inequality is unlikely to be very robust at a global or even a regional level. Indeed, examples can be found of migration both increasing and decreasing inequality. With this in mind, the authors seek to explore particular kinds of relationship between migration and inequality that emerge from case study material, to demonstrate how context-specific these relationships are. Second, through these case studies across Central America, Eastern Europe, West Africa and South Asia, they also argue that inequality needs to be defined in broader terms than simply income or wealth. Inequality, like poverty, is multi-dimensional, and can be measured at individual, household, regional and international levels. There are socio-cultural dimensions to inequality, as well as inequalities in access to power, whilst all aspects of inequality are highly gendered. Finally, the authors argue that central to outcomes in terms of all of these dimensions of inequality is the role played by a variety of political, economic and social-cultural institutions, since these are often crucial to the ways in which wealth, power and opportunity are distributed within societies.
World Development Report 2006, Background Papers, 26 pp.