Sunday, August 15, 2004
Migrants have long been ignored as a resource. Instead, they have often been perceived either as an economic burden on countries of destination or as a potential loss to their country of origin through "brain drain." There is another side to this story. Migrants are helping to maintain important social and economic linkages between the developed and developing worlds that alleviate poverty in very significant ways. Flows of remittances and the return of migrants with new skills can offset the loss of migrants and may even lead to a "brain gain." Modern communication and cheaper transportation make it easier for migrants to maintain links with their home countries, creating opportunities for investments and the sharing of know-how.Labor moves to its highest-valued use, and increasingly, borders are irrelevant. If you enact crappy economic policies, your best people may leave -- but their families stay here, and they receive money from their best and brightest. Indeed, families may find their best investment is in the brain of their brightest children whom they will send away in short order.
The danger is whether governments can ever do anything that "helps" remittances. That's the debate I'm in with others right now. More after I return from here.