COVID-19 and the State of Global Mobility in 2020

Meghan Benton, Jeanne Batalova, Samuel Davidoff-Gore and Timo Schmidt
Date of Publication: 
April, 2021
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

There may never have been a year like 2020 —almost every country shut down borders, grounded flights and halted immigration and resettlement programs. Meghan Benton and her colleagues explore the effects of this disruption on human migration in the article “COVID-19 and the State of Global Mobility in 2020,” published jointly by the International Organization for Migration and the Migration Policy Institute. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the regions and countries of the world in different ways, creating multiple effects on migrants, including increasing the gap between “movers and non-movers,” increasing socioeconomic precarity and strengthening the dependence-exploitation dynamic many migrants face when forced to deal with smugglers and traffickers. The authors also attempt to predict the future of public health responses to the ongoing pandemic, suggesting that vaccination and routine testing certificates may be the most effective public health strategy moving forward. This policy, however, has the potential to exacerbate gaps between the rich and poor, as access to vaccines and to quality testing has proven challenging to lower income countries. To improve outcomes, the report suggests that international bodies and governments explore lower-cost mitigation efforts (like multistage or combined testing and quarantine measures), enhance cooperation, emphasize transparency and take an inclusive approach. Overall, governments and international organizations must work to build a system that brings us out of this pandemic, prevents the next one, and eases the burden on migrants, “who have borne the brunt of the current pandemic,” even when there is little evidence that mobility controls played a significant role in stopping the spread of the pandemic. (Katelin Reger for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


Benton, M., Batalova, J., Davidoff-Gore, S., & Schmidt, T. (2021, April). COVID-19 and the State of Global Mobility in 2020. International Organization for Migration and Migration Policy Institute.