Page last updated at 01:13 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 02:13 UK

Migrants hit by global downturn

Dollar notes
Migrant workers are sending less money home to their families

There has been a dramatic decline in the number of people going to work abroad since the start of the global downturn, according to a new report.

The research, commissioned by the BBC World Service, also showed that those already abroad are more likely to stay where they are than return home.

Remittances - money sent by migrants to family members back home - were found to have declined.

The research was done by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

The picture painted by the report is varied, but the general pattern is one of fewer people moving to foreign countries for work.

For example, there was a sharp decline in the number of Mexicans moving to the United States.

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The researchers found that those who were already overseas were more likely to lose their jobs.

They said that partly reflected the fact that the immigrants often worked in industries especially exposed to the recession - notably construction and hospitality.

Despite the loss of income that many face, the research did not find evidence of massive return migration.

That may reflect the fact that for many migrants economic conditions are worse at home.

Many would also find it difficult to get back if they wanted to return to the host country later.

That is especially true for people who have moved illegally.

Escaping the worst

There are some striking exceptions to these patterns.

Eastern European workers picking celery
Many Eastern European migrant workers are going home

Many workers who went to the UK or Ireland from Central and Eastern Europe have returned home.

In some of those countries, notably Poland, economic conditions have not deteriorated as much.

In addition, as nationals of European Union countries, they can go back to the host country later.

Another striking exception to the general pattern is that remittances sent to some countries in Asia have continued to rise.

The report's focus was on international migration, but it did also look at the millions who move within China from the interior to the coastal cities.

They have been affected - after the annual return home for the Chinese New Year, fewer went back to the industrial cities.

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