Collier on How Migration Hurts the Homeland

Should borders be open? Essential, irrelevant–or even more so, a “fundamental freedom?” The notable developmental economist Paul Collier makes the case that migration can cause economic harm, contrary to some economic arguments:

Migration is good for poor countries, but not in every form, and not in unlimited amounts. The migration that research shows is unambiguously beneficial is the kind in which young people travel to democracies like America for higher education and then go home. Not only do these young people bring back valuable skills directly learned in the classroom; they bring back political and social attitudes that they have assimilated from their classmates. Their skills raise the productivity of the unskilled majority, and their attitudes accelerate democratization.

via Migration Hurts the Homeland – NYTimes.com.

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10 thoughts on “Collier on How Migration Hurts the Homeland

  1. trawson7 says:

    I mostly agree with this article; I think emigration is beneficial in certain respects for countries, but there is a line somewhere and beyond it emigration is no longer helpful. Brain drains are the worst things that can happen as far as developing countries are concerned; when the educated citizens who are capable of facilitating development in their country emigrate, the home country is devastated. However, Collier is right; this brain drain only occurs when too many of the educated citizenry leaves. Bigger countries, like China and India, benefit tremendously from emigration, because relatively small numbers of emigrants are leaving and some even come back and use their increased education to help economic development in their home country. This is the ideal.

  2. kttoolson says:

    I found this opinion article to be fascinating. I think that many Americans look at immigration and emigration form an American viewpoint, which is understandable. We forget about how the education that democracies can offer people from developing nations can really benefit society as a whole. The people are bringing back democratic ideals and relevant skills to their homes are going to benefit everyone in the long run when we no longer have to sustain these countries. This should be the mindset when we think of emigration, rather than looking at it as losing valuable workers in our own country.

  3. oliviaronna says:

    I really liked that he advised governments to create policies to encourage and assist emigrants to return home so that they can rebuild their countries. One problem with the Brain Drain is that the educated people are studying abroad, but they are not returning to their countries. These countries desperately need educated people to help their society function, but if they are all leaving, they are not going to prosper. It is a very good idea that we encourage these people to return to their countries, and it may be difficult for them to leave their probably more luxurious lives in first world countries, but it would be the best thing for these poor countries.

  4. This is an issue that certainly seems obvious but few people realize. Even as an international student, I had hardly given any thought to how my home country is affected in a broader spectrum with respect to the elites migrating to other countries. Like Olivia, I also liked the idea of making policies in foreign governments that encourage international students to return home once they are done with school. The only problem though, is that while the United States is educating this massive amount of foreigners, there is still a high percentage of the American population that is left uneducated which poses many other issues. I support this idea but I do not think that the United States should drive away such a significant amount of their upcoming educated generation.

  5. I was born and raised in Romania and I have seen the effects of brain drain on my country. Many Romanian emigrants return to Romania and indeed try to help Romanian society and the economy. However, the health system there has been devastated by medical staff emigration. Most of our best doctors and other medical staff left to wealthier economies to make a better living. As a result, we now have some of the worst medical care I have ever seen. Many Romanians are afraid to go to the doctor’s office because they don’t trust his or her expertise. We used to have foreigners come to Romania for treatment because of the lower costs, but I’m not sure it is still the case.

    On the other hand, some of Romania’s greatest minds became great thanks to the opportunities their host countries offered them (e.g., France, Germany, Austria, USA etc.). Many renowned Romanians received Western education in past centuries (e.g., sculptor Constantin Brancusi, play writer Eugen Ionescu, soprano Angela Gheorghiu etc.). We even had a Romanian on the moon.

  6. Joshua Dennis says:

    What Collier shares is nothing new. Yes, migration can lead to economic benefits for both the native and the host countries. However, open migration will definitely increase the amount of brain drain, or loss of intellectual or skilled workers from the native, less well off country. Both open and closed migration lead to pros and cos for both countries.

  7. jbs4395 says:

    I agree with what Olivia said. I liked how this article pointed out the benefit of emigration to poorer nations – helping to build them up with the education and skills these individuals have attained. As they emigrate back to their countries and build them up, those countries improve economically, socially, etc. and therefore make those countries more desirable to live in. I’m not sure what the solution to migration is, but I appreciated the enlightenment this article was able to show me the benefits of emigration in building up poorer societies.

  8. The opinion in this article is interesting. The idea that brain drains may be helpful for encouraging people from poorer countries to get an education due to the success of others is especially interesting. I think that educational borders should be relatively open so that more people can obtain higher education, but I do not think that they should always be able to stay in the country where they were educated. As in all things, there has to be balance so that poorer countries can be built up and not encounter high amounts of brain drain, while richer countries benefit from diversity without having too many immigrants.

  9. shannonmelissa22 says:

    This article brings up some good points about how people leaving their own country can harm their homeland. However, they aren’t always leaving just because they want to live in a more developed nation, but it is often because they need to move somewhere that is more politically stable and therefore safer for their family. While it might be true that if some of the more highly educated population stayed within their nations that they might be more capable of reforming their government, it also doesn’t seem fair to sacrifice the safety and quality of life of their families for this to happen.

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