While international migration represents an opportunity for young people to make a better life for themselves and their families by pursuing educational aspirations, job prospects, or a desire for personal development, the majority of youth migration seen today takes place against a backdrop of high unemployment, underemployment, and labor flexibilization; governance failures; persistent gender inequality; social exclusion; and growing concerns about climate change. These trends and phenomena are particularly prevalent in low- and middle-income countries, which helps explain why migration aspirations tend to be strongest in these countries. Youth migration is also evolving in a context of wider debates around the importance of job quality and security—many of which center on the question of whether job quality has been decreasing in recent decades.
The paper aims to set an agenda on how youth migration can contribute to the development and how it can be meaningfully integrated into development strategies. It goes beyond general references to youth migration and development, by drawing attention to regional and subregional specificities. While most of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators have focused on the relationship between youth, employment, and development (SDG 4.4, 8.5, 8b), this paper turns the focus to a more holistic understanding of the contribution of youth, through the prism of migration.