Structural adjustment Programs and their effects on global migration

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Structural adjustment Programs, also known as SAPs, are like financial aid programs that are issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank (WB) which are intended to put developing countries on the same level of playing field with the global economy so that they could repay their loans. The system is supposed to raise the overall standard of living for the people in these third world countries and help the economy develop. Initially it may appear as if this system promising and may benefit developing countries, evidence shows that SAPs have actually worsen the very problems that it was planned to solve.

The SAPs primarily benefits first world countries with cheap labor and opens up the third world countries to exploitation. Likewise, the purpose of welfare reforms is to help the people who are jobless or are not financially stable. Primarily it may seem like welfare reforms assures to decrease poverty but instead it increases poverty levels. In an article called On the Beach, Enloe writes “[countries] are usually encouraged by international advisors to develop service sectors before manufacturing industries mature. [iii] This is not the case only for third world countries, but in first world countries as well. Enloe goes on to explain how first world countries implement forms of SAPs via “cutbacks on healthcare and lack of subsidized child care”[iv] Poor countries like in the Philippines suffer the most, sadly. SAPs seem to always be implemented at someone’s expense and their true effects can be seen in countries like the Philippines where these programs increase the abundance of crime such as sex trafficking and sex tourism.

Chang and Kathleen state that “the World Bank and IMF impose SAPs as precautions for indebted nations to obtain loans,”[i] meaning that countries who badly need these loans cannot get them, forcing them to rely on other means of gaining capital. Not only does this lead to the increase of crime, but also thousands of people leaving countries like the Philippines in hopes of escaping that culture and finding hope in another country. Meanwhile in their home country, however, things only get worse and worse as the country’s poverty line seems to grow higher and higher.

People in First world nations do not have it as bad as the people in the developing countries. In fact, it can be very beneficial from this system because industries can gain a lot from an increase in cheap labor. Despite what most people believe and what government agencies would have us think, SAPs and Welfare Reform are not good programs for the poor, and even less so for immigrants. Though SAPs encourage impoverished people to migrate to wealthier communities in order to improve the quality of their lives, the condition of the poor really does not change. In addition, they cause forced migration due to the relocation of land. 1] The desperation of these migrants lead to an apathetic attitude by employers. Employers do not feel the urgency to improve working conditions, benefits, or salary due to these workers being more than willing to work for next to nothing.

The current mentality is that if the workers are okay with it, then the employers have no obligation to do the right thing. In the article “Welfare Reform as We Know It”, GROWL tells a story of a mother who believes the government rather my child and I live hand-to-mouth than see me get the education I’d need to get a job. [2] The issue with SAPs and Welfare reform is not necessarily that it takes money away from the poor, but rather it creates an inescapable cycle where people who live in poor conditions cannot escape them. For my response to the statement “All migrants would fare better in the richer countries than their own impoverished countries” is that migrants would fare better in richer countries because they have poor living and working conditions, the lack of economic perspectives, and environmental problems in their own impoverished countries.

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