The link with a home country. A comparative analysis of host country environments for diaspora engagement
The benefits that highly skilled migrants can bring to their home countries are increasingly regarded as being important for development, and consequently, many countries are now looking to take advantage of the experiences of their diasporas. The policies of home countries are usually given a position of prominence whenever diaspora engagement is on the agenda. Nevertheless, migrants who have successfully settled in their host country are in the best position to contribute to their country of origin. Therefore, the institutional environment and policies of the host countries play an equally significant role with regard to the opportunities that diasporas have in terms of gaining relevant expertise and being able to mobilise. This paper looks at host country environments in several European countries, and its aim is to identify good practices of enabling policies to get skilled diasporas involved in the socio-economic development of their home countries. The paper is based on a comprehensive policy review of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland with respect to their migration and development nexus and on in-depth interviews with key experts in this field. In addition, it provides first-hand information on the subject from skilled Indians in Europe. India is often cited as a positive example of a country that has benefited from skilled migration through reverse investment flows and the world’s highest transfers of remittances and expertise. While several Indian diaspora knowledge networks are present in the USA, we know relatively little about the activities of Indian professionals in Europe. Until recently the countries of continental Europe barely existed on the map of mobile Indian professionals. Therefore, this paper seeks to fill two gaps in the existing literature: first of all, it examines the conditions of Indian professionals in new destination countries, and secondly, it explores the impact of structural differences between host countries and their ability to provide a fruitful environment for diaspora engagement in home-country development.