Exodus – Paul Collier (2014)

Famous economist Paul Collier’s latest book focuses on the effects of migration; on both the immigrant as the people who welcome them. He manages to stay away from the moral high ground, that so often characterizes publications on this matter. His conclusions are surprising and have the potential to reframe the complex debate around migration. Of course, that would need other stakeholders (aid workers, politicians etc) to take the first exit from the moral high way as well. A good start would be to read this book, as Collier makes a strong ,empirical, point that moderate immigration is the best; for all parties involved.

Some of the most interesting take-aways:
– Migration will hugely increase over the coming decades, and will even speed up
– The question is not whether immigration is good or bad, but in what volumes it can be a positive force.
– The increase in immigration is the result of two variables: the size of the diaspora and the income gap with the country of origin. So, those are the two underlying trends that policy makers want to look at.
– An important characteristic of a successful society is the amount of trust between its citizens. Taking care of each other is of great importance in society, both for cooperation as for justice and fairness. Sizeable immigration of other cultures tends to undermine this social trust. And trust is in the end the result of shared values within a community – do we all feel part of the same society? It’s not hard to draw a line to some recent developments in Europe.
– A finding from his research that seemed to surprise Collier himself: the greater the cultural distance between two countries, the bigger the permanent migration will be
– The effects of immigration are less beneficial than the mainstream thinkers tend to think; the wages of the native population will decrease and pressure on social benefits will increase. Furthermore, there is no empirical evidence to prove an advantage on the longer term; the only long term effect is less space per person.

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