An economist and expert on the world’s poorest populations analyzes who migrates, why and the effects on host societies.
Collier (Economics/Univ. of Oxford; The Plundered Planet: Why We Must—and How We Can—Manage Nature for Global Prosperity, 2010, etc.) considers migration from poor to rich nations and what immigration policies are most appropriate. Eschewing the emotional responses often associated with his topic, he insists that “Is migration good or bad?” is the wrong question. Rather, he focuses on how much is best, hoping that his evidence-based study will help governments manage the flow. “[H]igh emotion and little knowledge” have created huge differences in migration policies (Japan is closed to immigrants), with most officials making value- rather than evidence-based judgments. Collier writes at length about the critical roles of diasporas, which make the cost of migration fall and provide much-needed help to the newly arrived. As diasporas grow (chiefly in big cities, in the United States and elsewhere), more migrants are likely to come, and fewer are absorbed into mainstream society. He notes that migrants are winners in the process. Mostly young, able to afford the high costs of migration and willing to take the risks, they tend to succeed. They do not compete closely with indigenous workers, writes Collier, but their earnings are driven down by the arrival of additional immigrants. The biggest losers are the people left behind in poor, mainly African nations, which lose their brightest and most talented, gaining somewhat from remittances. In all, migration does not have significantly adverse effects on host societies, writes the author, but nations must set ceilings on the sizes of diasporas. That way, migration will achieve a sustainable rate and not accelerate to a point where it becomes damaging.
Valuable reading for policymakers.