More than seven million Venezuelans have left their country in the last eight years to escape the economic, political and social crisis. The vast majority of them, six million, have settled in other countries in the Latin American region, which for years have invested part of their budgets in welcoming the new arrivals.
Venezuelan Migration Brings Surprising Economic Benefits for Latin American Countries
And it is not all expenses, according to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on the contrary: several countries in the region could see their GDP grow by up to 4.5 points by 2030 thanks to the arrival of foreign workers, according to the Washington-based institution.
The Venezuelan migration, which is unprecedented in Latin America and exceeds that of Syria in the world, is not homogeneous and has had several waves.
The first wave, which began a decade ago, was made up of professionals with higher purchasing power. They were followed by young university students from the middle class and from 2021 onwards, people with low incomes and lower levels of education began to arrive in the countries, mostly South Americans.
Receiving and integrating all these people has come to cost almost half a point of the annual GDP in the main host country, Colombia, and 0.3% in other countries with large inflows, such as Ecuador and Peru.
The Cost of Integration: Analyzing Colombia’s Response to the Venezuelan Migration Crisis
The case of neighboring Venezuela is particularly noteworthy. Colombia has received two million Venezuelans, granting work permits to virtually all of them and investing $600 per migrant in 2019, the main year of arrival, to address issues related to health, housing, employment, education and childcare.
However, the IMF assures that the costs of integrating immigrants will diminish over time as they integrate into the labor force, and will ultimately generate important benefits in the medium term in terms of productivity and growth, leading to an increase in the labor force and a better match between the human capital of foreigners and their jobs.
In addition, a significant number of Venezuelans are starting businesses. According to the Venezuelan Diaspora Observatory, 20% of emigrants are entrepreneurs, 14% are students and the rest are employees.
This can be seen, for example, on the streets of any neighborhood in a large Colombian city. Immigrants have opened grocery stores, workshops, hairdressing salons, or repair shops for electronic products, among many other activities, including technology.
The countries that benefit most are those that receive Venezuelan emigrants, who are more skilled than the local population.
Peru would gain up to 4.5 percentage points of its GDP by 2030 thanks to the arrival of Venezuelans; Colombia could reach 3.7 points and Ecuador and Chile 3.5 and 2.5, respectively.
Continuing to Support Immigrants in a Pandemic: Colombia Promotes Immigration Measures While Others Set Obstacles
According to the IMF, these countries will have to continue to support immigrants with measures such as visa exemptions or access to social services, aspects that Colombia has continued to promote while others have put obstacles in place or are considering doing so.
The emigration of Venezuelans slowed down in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but has now reactivated, despite the economic improvement in the country of origin – Venezuela will grow by more than 17% this year, after losing 75% of its GDP between 2013 and 2021 – and the total number of emigrants could exceed 8.5 million in 2025. However, an important part of this new wave of migration is directed at the United States and also to Spain.
The IMF does not provide data on the economic impact of their arrival in Spain, which already hosts 410,000 Venezuelans, up from 60,000 a decade ago. Of these, 5,000 are doctors and 7,000 are architects and engineers.
The Migration of Venezuelan Nationals Positively Reflected
The migration of Venezuelans is a reflection of the human spirit to resist and fight for better opportunities. Despite extreme challenges and difficult circumstances, Venezuelans have shown remarkable resilience and determination in their search for a better life.
Migration has created a sense of unity among the Venezuelan diaspora, as people come together to support each other and help build new communities in their host countries. Migration has also contributed to the cultural diversity of these countries, bringing a rich tapestry of traditions, music and cuisine that enriches the lives of both natives and emigrants.
In addition, the presence of Venezuelans has added economic value to their host countries, as they bring their skills, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit to their new communities. Globally, the migration of Venezuelans serves as a testament to the power of human resilience and the transformative impact people can have when allowed to succeed.
Beyond the personal and cultural benefits of Venezuelan migration, it is also worth noting the positive impact migrants have had on their host countries. The influx of people has brought new perspectives and ideas, spurring innovation and creativity.
Many Venezuelans have opened businesses, creating jobs and contributing to local economies. They have also increased the diversity of local communities, providing new opportunities for cultural exchange and community building. The contributions of Venezuelan emigrants to the social and cultural fabric of their host countries cannot be overstated.
They bring with them a rich cultural heritage that enriches the lives of those around them and helps build more inclusive and vibrant communities.
Overall, the migration of Venezuelans has been a positive experience for both the individuals who have made the journey and the communities that have welcomed them.
While there is no doubt that migration presents challenges, it is important to recognize and celebrate the many benefits it brings. By embracing the contributions of migrants, we can build stronger, more resilient and more diverse communities that are better equipped to thrive in an ever-changing world.