What Emigration Leaves Behind: The Situation of Emigrants and their Families in Ecuador
The goal of this study is to identify, analyze and measure discrimination against international emigrants and their families in the southern area of Ecuador (the city of Cuenca and the rural canton of San Fernando) and its potential social costs. The study is based on three types of data: in-depth interviews, media analyses and two population surveys. The main finding of this study is that discrimination against emigrants is based on the following social representations: (1) Emigration is a problem; (2) Emigration is bad for the region (Cuenca and the nation), for the emigrants themselves, and especially for the families of emigrants; (3) Emigrants are economically irrational, fail to use their remittances in productive and sustainable activities and therefore fail to contribute to the national economy; (4) Emigrants are irresponsible because they abandon their families and thus deserve moral condemnation; and (5) Emigrants' children do worse in school than the children of non-emigrants, they are not integrated into society (i.e., they are marginalized and self-excluded) and they are likely to seek to leave the country as their parents did.
On the basis of these conclusions, the paper proposes the following recommendations:
- More research to analyze the economic consequences of international emigration, and the reconstitution of racial categories in Ecuador.
- Diffusion of this study's results to the government and to NGOs working oninternational migration to combat stereotypes against residents.
- Public campaigns to acknowledge emigrants' contribution to the national economy.
- Laws prohibiting discrimination against emigrants (e.g., in schools and in the media).
- Land and agricultural policies to improve rural development and providealternatives to international emigration.