Article Number: 34, Number of words 800
The simplest way to make the world richer is to allow more people to move. As per Michael Clemens author of , “The Walls of Nations” If everyone who wanted to migrate were able to do so, global GDP would double. No other policy change comes close to generating such colossal rewards. If there is $90 trillion a year up for grabs, you might think that policymakers would be feverishly devising ways to get a piece of it, but they are not.
Some of the biggest upheavals of the past decade—the election of Donald Trump, the rise of populism in Europe, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union—are partly driven by the fear of mass migration.
It has become physically much easier to move, but bureaucratically much harder. Now it is extremely difficult to migrate legally from a poor country to a rich one, unless you are highly skilled or a close relative of a legal resident. America’s green-card lottery last year attracted 294 applicants for each of its 50,000 slots. the net inflow of all migrants fell by 74% in 2018, to 200,000 people.
Importance of Immigration
Skilled migrants make locals more productive. In these cities, brainy people from all around the world come together and bounce ideas off each other. Silicon Valley could not function without engineers from elsewhere. London’s financial industry would be lost without number-crunchers from Italy, India and Indiana. Immigrants or their children founded 45% of America’s Fortune 500 companies, including Apple, Google and Levi Strauss. Two-fifths of America’s Nobel science prize-winners since 2000 have been immigrants. Globally, migrants are three times likelier to file patents than non-migrants
Commercial or scientific projects typically involve big teams with varied talents and expertise. The absence of just one specialist can delay or scupper the whole project. Drawing on a global talent pool makes it easier to fill such gaps, and pursue bigger ideas. Startups that win visas for foreign staff in America’s skilled-visa lottery are more likely to expand, according to a study by Stephen Dimmock of Nanyang Technical University. This is one reason why, when Mr Trump squeezed the number of such visas, it did not create jobs for Americans. It forced American firms to move talent-hungry operations offshore, finds Britta Glennon of Carnegie Mellon University.
The Australian Way
Fully 29% of Australia’s population was born abroad. That is twice the proportion in the United States, the world’s best-known nation of immigrants. Until 1973, under what was known as the “white Australia” policy, immigration was largely restricted to people of European origin. Since then, the policy has been color-blind and unusually welcoming, yet also ruthlessly selective.
Applicants for “skilled independent” visas are given points for such things as education, work experience, English proficiency and, crucially, age. The ideal age is 25-32, when would-be migrants have finished college (possibly at another country’s expense) and have their whole working life ahead of them. The applicants with the most points are given permanent residency without even needing a job offer.
Australia’s annual intake of permanent migrants has risen since the 1980s, from 69,000 in 1984-85 (including 14,000 refugees) to around 200,000 from 2011 to 2018 (including 10,000-20,000 refugees). In addition, the number of foreign students at Australian universities doubled, to 400,000, between 2008 and 2018, making higher education the country’s third-largest export.
The inflow of brains from all around the world has made Australia richer and more dynamic. Since 1973 its population has doubled; its economy has grown 21-fold. The country has enjoyed 28 years of unbroken economic growth.
Public opinion remains robustly pro-immigration: 82% believe immigrants are good for Australia and 52% consider the current pace of immigration about right or too low, against 43% who want it reduced, a Scanlon Foundation poll finds.
THE LESSON LEARNT
Allison Harell of the University of Quebec found that voters are more tolerant of immigration if they feel that their country is in control of its borders. When people think the government has lost control of its borders—as they did in Germany during the refugee crisis of 2015-16—they grow more hostile to migrants. Voters will support higher levels of immigration only if the process by which they are admitted is orderly and selective. They want to choose whom they let in.
Further in respect to brain drain A study by Frédéric Docquier and Hillel Rapoport concluded that “high-skill emigration need not deplete a country’s human-capital stock”—and if well handled, can actually make the sending country richer. Big countries such as India, China and Brazil would benefit handsomely from sending out more migrants. However, once a country starts losing more than 20% of its university graduates, as some small African countries do, it starts to be a drag on growth.
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