Today Cape Verdians outside the island outnumber those who live on the island, and this dynamic which has been forming for years, even decades has transformed a nation and continues to redefine family and social ties. And yet Cape Verde is far from being the lone example of this new world order. Countries like Mexico and the Philippines, just to name two, also have very large populations abroad.

World wide it is estimated that 200 million people live outside their country of birth, and last year they send back about $300 billion dollars back home, nearly three times the world’s foreign aid budgets combines. And while having relatives abroad can help those who stay behind escape poverty, it also destroys families. Having a relative abroad can mean having the means to build a home, buy groceries and school supplied, but it also means that increasingly children are growing up with other relatives and friends of the family, instead of their parents.

In a world where developed countries have growing elderly populations, and it is increasingly common for both parents to work outside the home, immigrants provide necessary labor to keep these economies running. In turn immigrants are able to work, and help their own back home. But being raised by others is not the only drawback of this system. Nations with large populations abroad also experience brain drain, thus almost guarantying that their own situation at home is not likely to improve.

Interestingly, nations who tend to export people and tend to be large recipients of immigrants from other nations who might be escaping even worse poverty, or other hardship.

You can read more about this through this article in the NYT.