Thomas-Hope, Elizabeth M.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Geology and Geogaphy
Return migration to Jamaica and its development potential
Date of Publication
Return migration to Jamaica is associated closely with the existence and nature of the transnational linkages established between migrants and their home country, especially at the level of the household and family. Remittances invariably precede, accompany and follow the actual return of migrants and comprise money as well as a range of consumer goods. Data on the number of returning migrants to Jamaica have been collected officially only since 1992; other information is derived from field studies. The figures show that the US is the source of most return migrants to Jamaica, with the United Kingdom second. Likewise, there are few official statistics on remittances, especially of those entering the country through informal channels. Nevertheless, data on the receipt of money through the Bank of Jamaica, indicate that during the 1990s remittances as a percentage of GDP exceeded that of the traditional foreign currency earners of bauxite and sugar. Growing awareness of the potential of the Jamaican overseas community has led the Government of Jamaica to establish programmes, including The Return of Talent programme, supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to encourage the return of nationals. Different types of return migrants have the potential to make different kinds of contributions to national development - some through their skills, educational and professional experience, others through the financial capital which they transfer for investment or as retirement income. However, the most significant development potential of return lies in the social and economic conditions in Jamaica itself. If confidence levels are high, there will be little difficulty in attracting persons to return and financial transfers and investments will increase. Furthermore, the social and economic environment largely conditions the extent to which skills and talent as well as the financial capital are effectively utilized.....