Migration in a Globalized World

Folgender Beitrag entstand während des Global Economic Symposiums, das am 4. und 5. Oktober 2011 in Kiel stattfand. Alle Artikel sind auf economicinsights.eu zu finden.

Globalization is also the globalization of labor and therefore migration is becoming an intrinsive part. “This is an issue, everybody knows something about.”

Migration, as a panelist said, has definitly a negative connotation, which he wants to see eliminated by showing evidence in favor of migration. Since 2000 the remittances, the money migrants send back in their home countries, grew faster than the world GDP. It should be made clear, that migration has benefits for both, the donor and recipient countries.

Data shows that Europe attracts in particular unskilled migrants, whereas in the United States or Canada the migrant labor force is much more educated. This can either be called a misallocation or just a statistical trick. Illegal immigrants from the Americas are not measured in the US and therefore do not appear in official data.

But there is totally different attitude towards immigrants. In the US migrants are only foreign born persons, in Europe, however, the second or even third generation is called migrants. It is easy to become American. “Basically it is enough to put an American flag in the garden.”

Different Skill Levels

In order to can discuss about the humancapital of immigrants in an appropriate way, it is neccessary to disaggregrate the term “skill” in high, middle and low. The persons belonging to one of the groups have different motivations to leave their home countries. High-skilled will migrate anyway and will always find countries, that want them to live side its system. But they also tend to be downgraded, when they try to find a job, because the workingforce gaps are in the middle-skilled area.  The biggest difficulties are with the unskilled: “Policies need to be in place, because in the best case they are exploited and in the worst there is trafficking involved.”

Temporary Migration

One of the topics war temporary migration. There were both, opposing panelists and those in favor. “Temporary migration is no serious political solution”, claimed a person against residence permits, that have an expiration date. Immigrants, who know that they will have to leave again, have lower incentives to invest in their humancapital by learning the language or integrate socially. The advantages of temporary migration are with seasonal work in the agricultural sector or tourism, where shortages need a quick reaction.

Integration by Dual Citizenship

All panelists agreed that language skills are a crucial part of integration. Only after that it is possible “to climb up the integration ladder”. Dual citizenship could be one way to intensify integration: People could feel stronger as members of society when they are citizens. It was compared with a family situation: When parents split up it is the best for kids to stay in both parts and not to be forced to decide for one side. The same is said to be the case for migrants.

Next Time: Extend the Focus

The panel concentrated pretty much only on the situation in Germany and Austria and in general the industrialized world. It would have been interesting to extend the focus to other countries, in particular the view of a so-called “donor countries”, the countries, where people are migrating from. How do these countries live with having many people leaving the country? Do they suffer from brain-drain? Is there a net benefit by remittences? Are there programms and initiatives to keep people in the country?

Participants in the panel:

Wolfgang Schüssel, Former Federal Chancellor, Austria

Aart de Geus, Member of the Executive, Board, Bertelsmann Stiftung; Former Deputy Secretary General, OECD

Christian Dustmann, Professor of Economics, University College London

Gil S. Epstein, Professor of Economics, Bar-Ilan-University


Kim Cloete, Journalist, Moneyweb

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