Feature

How migration hurts poor societies

Migration isn’t necessarily the economic panacea it’s cracked up to be.

Paul CollierThe New York Times

Migration isn’t necessarily the economic panacea it’s cracked up to be, said Paul Collier. We’re now seeing liberals and businesses join forces to promote immigration reform as good for immigrants and good for the economy. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s new lobbying group, FWD.us, advocates for new immigration laws that, not surprisingly, “happen to align nicely with the interests of the technology industry.” But his efforts also appeal to immigration reformers “who presume that opening doors wider is the humane thing to do.” They should be asking, “Humane for whom?” Migration serves poor countries best when people “travel to democracies like America for higher education and then go home,” bringing back skills and attitudes that “raise the productivity of the unskilled majority.” But there can be too much of a good thing, particularly for smaller countries. Haiti, for instance, is currently suffering from “an educational hemorrhage,” as about 85 percent of its educated youths leave for elsewhere. Liberals like to believe that by easing immigration, “they’re helping poor people flee difficult situations at home.” But by helping individual “poor people,” they too often ignore the harmful consequences they create for “poor societies.”

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