There are few things that will affect the world’s economic future more than migration. There’s a new book available that offers arguably one of the best analysis of the costs and benefits of migration. Let’s take a closer look.
Migration: Creating Winners and Losers
When an African man from a desolate region migrates to the city to work in a mine, his wife doesn’t always move with him. Sometimes his family does, often they don’t. Those that do don’t often enjoy their new life – working in hot new kitchens, looking after relatives, doing what they can to make ends meet too and only seeing their estranged husbands a couple of weeks a year. Even though the husbands send home money, they frequently send it to their parents. Migration tends to create both winners and losers.
But the Advantages Outweigh the Disadvantages
Take a look at the book, Exceptional People and you’ll soon realise that authors Geoffrey Cameron, Ian Goldin, and Meera Balarajan make it perfectly clear: the gains of migration far outweigh the losses.
If the economically well-off countries were to take in enough migrants from poorer countries with the view of expanding their labour forces even just 3 percent, the world would be a lot richer – in fact, one estimate reports the world would be up by $356 billion per year. What’s more, completely opening up the borders could potentially add an outstanding $39 trillion over half a century to our global economy. This is an astonishing 500 times more than the amount the rich world tends to spend on foreign aid every year.
From this we can deduce that migration is by far the most effective tool for reducing global poverty that faces us today.
It has been deduced that the same worker can earn as much as 15 times more if he were to move from Yemen to America, for example.
The wage gap between the rich and poorer countries is much wider than it was a century ago during the age of migration from Europe to the U.S.
Migration on the Increase
It’s no wonder the number of international migrants has doubled in the last quarter-century, as any immigration lawyer would agree.
The combination of cheaper communications and increasing mobility has resulted in a global economy that is becoming connected in a way we’ve never before witnessed.
More about the Book
The book may seem to be filled with bold ambitions, but thanks to modern techniques for decoding genetic evidence, we know a lot more now about the movements of prehistory than we did, say a decade ago. Genetic testing is cheap which affords the authors the opportunity to draw up a map of their ancestors and trace their movements.
Immigration in Well-Off Countries
Immigration seems to be unpopular in richer countries. That’s because people tend to overestimate its cost while underestimating the benefits.
Influxes of unskilled migrants could drag down the salaries of unskilled natives. But this is actually a very small and insignificant effect.
In reality, migrants tend to create employment for natives. For example, Indian entrepreneurs in San Francisco have created new technology firms. Mexican nannies raise American families while mothers go off to work.
Typically, migrants come when they know their services are needed. Through the grapevine they hear about which jobs are drying up a considerable time before government event notices.
The Next Wave of Migration
It’s predicted the next large wave of migration is going to come from Africa. In today’s economic climate, too many Africans are too poor to move far away. An average Congolese native, for example, can’t afford a boat ride to Kinshasa, never mind Europe. But as Africa does become less poor, more and more natives will acquire the means needed to migrate.
In general, the authors have predicted a future of labour shortages in richer countries – something only migration can solve. As America and Europe come of age, they’re going to need younger housekeepers, cleaners, nurses, and the like. Robots can’t take over everything.
The demand for skilled worker is going to continue to grow and countries are going to start fiercely competing for talent that can effortlessly up and leave their roots for another country.
Migration, it is thought, is going to play a major role in defining our economic future.