Study identifies improvement in Roraima’s socioeconomic situation following increase in immigration from Venezuela
A study about Roraima’s current socioeconomic situation reveals that the state’s economic activity and diversification indicators have improved since flows of migrants from Venezuela intensified. The study, titled “Roraima’s economy and immigration from Venezuela: evidence and support for public policies,” was produced by researchers at Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Department of Public Policy Analysis (FGV DAPP), the International Migration Observatory (OBMigra) and Roraima Federal University. It was funded by the UN Refugee Agency and the Higher Education School of the Federal Public Prosecutors’ Office (ESMPU).
By analyzing official data, the authors found growth in retail sales and exports, as well as a 25% increase in revenue from Goods and Services Tax (ICMS), between the end of 2018 and the first half of 2019. They also noted that between 2016 and 2017, the state’s economy grew 2.3%, while other Brazilian states grew 1.4% on average.
According to the study, between 2017 and 2018, the state recorded the sharpest rise in area of planted crops in Brazil (28.9%). Other sectors also saw growth in economic activity in the same period, alongside an 8% increase in the level of productive diversification in Roraima – something not noted in other Brazilian states on average.
Over the last seven years, more than 250,000 Venezuelans have requested refuge or residency in Brazil, and most of them entered through Roraima. Since April 2018, when the inflow intensified, more than R$500 million has been assigned to Operation Welcome, the humanitarian response program run by the federal government together with United Nations agencies and civil society organizations.
The study says that the average salary of the people of Roraima has not declined, and in fact it has been on an upward trajectory since 2016. During the period when inflows of Venezuelan migrants intensified, no change was observed in the salaries of Brazilians in Roraima employed in the formal job market.
Although the unemployment rate increased in Roraima in 2018 and 2019, an analysis of economic activity was unable to rule out the hypothesis that this effect was merely mechanical, due to the fact that most of the Venezuelans who arrived were unemployed and vulnerable.
Considering Brazil as a whole, the report suggests that in 2018, the fiscal contribution of Venezuelans was around R$100 million – roughly the same as additional government spending. Thus, the Brazilian public sector did not spend more money than it received from accepting refugees and migrants from Venezuela between 2017 and 2018.
Finally, the study sets out some public policy suggestions, such as the urgent need to distribute Venezuelans in different states and run vocational training programs aimed at not just refugees and migrants, but also the public authorities in the affected municipalities.
The report also emphasizes the need for more social welfare initiatives, especially social integration activities in areas that have received Venezuelans, as well as tools for monitoring, evaluating and collecting information about Venezuelans before and after they have moved deeper into Brazil, in order to improve the response to inflows of refugees and immigrants while maximizing the economic potential of their full integration into the labor market.
The complete study is available on the United Nations’ website.