Let’s get one thing straight; human trafficking is not a new human institution or practice. It’s been around for a very long time. Just as slavery applies across the board and has been practiced by all cultures at all times in human history until recently, human trafficking is old news. However, if you were to slice and dice it based on economic realities, you would be able to get to the heart of human trafficking.
Please understand that people who practice human trafficking don’t do it because they’re evil, or they just want to give people a hard time. That comes after. That is a byproduct of something else. That something else of course involves economic factors.
To create a human trafficking situation, two factors have to appear. These are sets of factors: push and pull factors.
Economic push factors
These factors involved the local situation in the countries of origin of migrants. These are the places where people being trafficked come from. The push factors are actually quite obvious. They come from low-wage countries where chances of upward mobility are slim to none. If you’re born poor, chances are, you’re going to die poor.
These are usually countries that are evolving slowly from an agrarian economy to a somewhat modern industrial economy, and just like with any other a society that’s going through some sort of economic transition, there are social repercussions. This cannot be avoided, and unfortunately, this leads to a tremendous amount of poverty. There are low wages, monopolize pricing that produces high prices while the quality of products and services are pitifully low.
During these times of economic, social and industrial disruption, a lot of people are pushed to migrate either temporarily or permanently. They’re looking for that proverbial greener pastures.
Keep in mind that a lot of Western Europe, as well as the United States and Canada, have pretty much sealed themselves behind fairly restrictive or well-defined immigration protocols. The work around this of course is illegal human trafficking. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of takers. Given the push factors involved, a lot of people would voluntarily go through human trafficking, just so they can give their families back home a shot at a better life.
Economic pull factors
The pull factors of human trafficking involve the attractiveness of the host country.
In the United States, you really have to work hard to remain unemployed for a long time. The same applies to Canada and certain parts of Western Europe. Due to the huge amount of need for low-skilled, low-paid labor, a lot of migrants would move hell and high water just to go to where the jobs are. You may be thinking, as a resident of the United States, that it would be really crazy for somebody to work for less than $5 an hour, but if you look at the exchange rate, as well as the nominal purchasing power of many parts of the world, this chump change to many Americans is actually a fortune to a lot of people.
If you’re still not convinced, wrap your mind around the fact that over 40% of the world’s population making $2 per day and up is more than enough to take care of their daily needs. Around 40% of the globe’s population lives on $2 or less per day. Keep that in mind for perspective.
Looking at both the push and pull factors of the economic realities playing out in the world, it’s no surprise that human trafficking is as prevalent as it is. We don’t expect things to change anytime soon unless, and until, these economic realities go away.