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Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future Paperback – 16 Sep 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (16 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069115631X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691156316
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 352,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development at the University of Oxford, is also Director of the innovative Oxford Martin School, an interdisciplinary research community addressing global challenges and opportunities. He has published 18 books on issues related to globalisation, trade, agriculture, development, migration, the environment, governance and economic reform.

Before moving to Oxford University in 2006, Professor Goldin was Vice President of the World Bank and Director of Policy for the World Bank Group. From 1996-2001 he was Chief Executive and Managing Director of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, at which time he was also economic advisor to President Mandela. Previously, he was Principal Economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, and Program Director at the OECD Development Centre in Paris, where he directed the Programs on Trade, Environment and Sustainable Development. He has a Doctorate and MA from the University of Oxford, MSc from the London School of Economics and BSc and BA(Hons) from the University of Cape Town.

Goldin has received wide recognition for his contributions to development and research, including having been knighted by the French Government and nominated Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.

www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/director

Product Description

Review

Winner of the 2011 PROSE Award in Sociology & Social Work, Association of American Publishers

One of the Best Books in Politics and Current Affairs, The Economist for 2011

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012

"This is a book of bold ambitions ably fulfilled. Mr. Goldin and his co-authors offer a history of migration, from man's earliest wanderings in Africa to the present day. . . . After filling in the historical background, the authors give a rigorous but readable guide to the costs and benefits of modern migration."--The Economist

"[A]n essential read . . . [the authors'] arguments are buttressed by a deep understanding of the past, a comprehensive engagement with the present, and a clear vision of the future."--Sarah Hackett, Times Higher Education

"In Exceptional People, the authors carry out an evenhanded assessment of the costs and benefits of international migration. They find that all involved--the countries that receive immigrants, those that send them, and immigrants most of all--prosper when movement across borders is allowed without hindrance. Anti-immigration campaigners who consult Exceptional People will encounter hard-to-refute arguments that favor free movement; advocates of open borders will find in the book the data and reasoning they need to fortify their case."--Karunesh Tuli, ForeWord Reviews

"Goldin's conclusion is that western governments should simply accept the inevitable and open their borders, in line with economic demand--albeit within the framework of some pan-national treaty and institution. After all, as he points out, it is odd that there is no global body to oversee the movement of people, as there is with finance and trade. If that liberalization occurred, he thinks it would deliver an 'economic boost as high as $39,000bn over 25 years'. More surprisingly, he also argues that a 'tipping point' will be reached soon, which could shift the political debate. As world population levels stabilize in the next 50 years, a global labor shortage could prompt fierce competition for migrants."--Gillian Tett, Financial Times

"Exceptional People is an absorbing study albeit academic. It strongly advocates the need to establish a global migration agenda and clearly shows that the advantages of migration far outweigh the disadvantages: Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future."--Arab News

"Exceptional People is an excellent book. It would make a great addition to readings lists for graduate and advanced undergraduate courses dealing extensively with migration. Its wide scope will provide plenty of ideas for new academic projects, and its conclusions invite reflection and further discussion."--Chris Minns, EH.net

"Migratory movements have been a persistent component of the human condition, and motivation for migration has varied considerably over time and with respect to the world's constantly shifting political and economic realities. This excellent book provides a broad history of migration. . . . [R]equired reading for anyone interested in the future implications of this most compelling of human activities."--Choice

"Exceptional People is packed with surprising insights. . . . [T]his is a book of bold ambitions ably fulfilled."--Daily Star, Bangladesh

"This book deserves to be widely read. Its principal messages that migration has been an integral part of human history and that migration brings real benefits to origin and destination countries, as well as to the migrants themselves, are well taken."--Ronald Skeldon, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities

"Exceptional People is a wonderful reference for a wide audience. With its comprehensive review of the scholarly field, clear articulation of the migration debates, constant insights, practical policy suggestions, and rich collections of data (including thirty-seven figures and fourteen tables), the book is a great resource for researchers as well as policy makers. Its chronological structure and elegant writing style, together with many boxed cases illustrating specific groups and events of migration, also make it easy to read and suitable for classroom use."--Lisong Liu, Journal of World History

"I found the book very readable and interesting. . . . The third part of the book is particularly insightful and provides an agenda for the free movement of people that can be debated. The book covers a lot of material and would be perfect as an introductory text for undergraduate and graduate courses on migration. . . . [I]t is a refreshing read from ordinary 'doom and gloom' readings. I recommend it wholeheartedly."--James Raymer, Journal of Regional Science

"This is a careful and thorough re-examination of migration in modern society which demolishes most of the substantive arguments against greater support for international migration."--Jonathan Dresner, World History Connected

"The book by Goldin et al is a stimulating work that takes the reader on a very complete journey along the past, present and future of international migrations. . . . [B]esides offering a very careful and elaborated historical review, its main contribution lies in offering an interdisciplinary analysis of these processes. Very well and clearly written, the book is interesting and captivating for a very wide audience, not just for the scientific community or the experts in migration studies."--Juan Felipe Mejia, European Journal of Development Research

"[T]his is a fine book that provides much insight. It is not an economics book and does not claim to be one. But it is a book that many economists, and anyone interested in migration, would do well to read."--Tim Hatton, Economic Record

"This study is clearly written and well argued. With a comprehensive index, meticulous notes and a large bibliography, its sources are easily accessible to every reader. Its arguments are controversial and . . . deserve thoughtful consideration by anyone involved in the issue, especially legislators and policy makers."--Eleanor L. Turk, Yearbook of German-American Studies

"The authors have written the book I had considered undertaking as capstone of my work, but undoubtedly carried out better than I would have on my own. . . . Highly ambitious, the book largely delivers what it promises, a broad theoretically based understanding of the role of migration in shaping the course of human history, without succumbing to the temptation of striving to achieve a general theory of migration."--Aristide R. Zolberg, Ethnic & Racial Studies

From the Back Cover

"A sweeping and constructive study. With a deep sense of what sort of creatures we humans are, this book takes us through millennia in the unending quest of people for development and discovery. It suggests that population movements have been the carriers of innovation from one region to others. It will change, if anything can, the way governments and international organizations view immigration policy."--Edmund S. Phelps, Nobel Prize-winning economist

"Migration is not a zero-sum game; it brings great benefits to the receiving country, the sending country, and to migrants themselves. That is the clear message of the evidence from history, economics, and the social sciences more generally. This wise book assembles that evidence in a very thoughtful, careful, and scholarly way, making an enormous contribution to this crucial subject and providing fundamental guidance on one of the key issues of our times."--Nicholas Stern, London School of Economics and Political Science

"In capturing the full sweep of immigration as a key part of human experience and development from the remote past to the distant future, Exceptional People strikes a perfect balance between sympathetic understanding of the basic motivations to migrate and hardheaded pragmatism with respect to government policy. The authors' narrative is insightful, clear-eyed, and deftly written, and will engage the attention of both experts and the interested lay audience."--Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University

"The fear of the outsider is a pervasive feature of Western culture. Yet, as the authors show so powerfully, we all owe our origins to historical migrations. Migrants are indeed exceptional people who enrich our societies and boost our economies by challenging conventional ways of doing things. This book reveals that migration is an essential part of human development and that we lose a great deal through widespread perceptions of migration as a problem. The global migration agenda proposed in this highly readable book shows how potential downsides could be reduced and enormous benefits realized."--Stephen Castles, coauthor of The Age of Migration

"In public discourse, migration may be the subject that minimizes the ratio of clarity to volume. The authors deserve high praise for joining this discussion with the quiet and clear yet firm voice that is the hallmark of economic analysis at its best."--Paul Romer, Stanford University

"This clear and lively book is the most skillful articulation of the case for the liberalization of international migration. The authors consistently present migration's benefits, but do not ignore migration's costs or shy away from controversy. It makes an important argument on an important subject, and deserves to be widely read."--Kathleen Newland, Migration Policy Institute


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ian T. Webber on 15 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
The title of this book is a playful and thought-provoking bait to any reader looking for a collection of biographies of famous or notorious celebrities, geniuses or leaders. Instead we are encoraged to invert a common perception of immigrants as a threat or burden to the territory they enter, to see them rather as significant net contributors to wealth. The book seeks to bring a broad historical and current economic perspective to one of the most politically sensitive issues of our age. Its scope embraces arguments about globalization, demographics, and justice.

The first part is a gallop through world history with an emphasis on the key role human migration has played to the extent that it is almost impossible to postulate a civilized and advanced world without it. It is arguable that there are important qualitative differences between the early diffusion of human groups over thousands of years and more recent migrations. These chapters choose to highlight the economic and cultural progress flowing from migration, but play down the destructive aspects of conquest and colonization.

The second section of the book focuses on the modern era particularly on government policies that have gone back and forth and often seemed to embody contradictory elements. Much attention is given to the varied attempts to regulate migration in the past 50 years or so. The costs and benefits of migration to both the migrants themselves and the receiving communities are analyzed with the conclusion that there is a substantial net benefit to both. There is an "unleashing" of productivity that results. Of course this is an overall and longterm result, and may not be a comfort to some who do not prosper.

The third part of the book is aimed at the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Russell Sinclair on 16 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent rebuttal to those who think that immigrants steal jobs from the native-born and make things worse for the places they move to. Goldin and co don't dismiss or play down any of the evidence that contradicts their conclusions. But they make a compelling case that the advantages of allowing people to live more or less where they please vastly outweigh the costs. People who enjoy this book would probably also enjoy Robert Guest's "Borderless Economics", which tackles the same themes with more anecdotes and on-the-ground reporting.
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I lived in 4 countries by now and I am an engineer - not an economist or a sociologist. I did most of the immigration work by myself - not with the help of big multinational companies.

I enjoyed reading this book because it gave me a better understanding why other people emigrate and what countries could do to help immigrants. The history aspect also fascinated me. I suspect that also other readers with a similar background that moved around and lived in other countries would find some of the material stimulating. The future of immigration and proposed policies rang true to me.

In 2012 it often seems to me that the nation states want to scale back on immigration and the tide is turning more and more against free movement. If you are an immigrant, and want to have a few good arguments for immigration in your next discussion, then you will find lots of material in this book.

I need to point out that if you are coming from outside the field of economics or sociology you will need to put in an effort to understand the material - it is not an easy read
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By H. V. Gael on 14 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
Finally a book on migration from academics instead of politicians or racists. It looks very academic. Yes, lots of facts, well documented and lots of references. But in many ways it's rather a plea for the capitalist benefits that migrations may have. The book is interesting for those who love history and can have a bit of politically biased views. But it's weak for the economists among us. When it comes to economical statistics and research, the book is very weak and even biased (unfounded or out of context conclusions, pushing the editor's views). If you want to know how much richer or poorer a nation becomes thanks to (im)migration, how the costs and benefits are to be calculated and who profits most of it under which circumstances, ... then forget this book.
People move because they are forced to or because in search of a better life, not just for fun (for that, read a book on tourism). The plight of these migrants seems to be of a lower importance than the financial benefits that others (business, nations) can extract from them. In short: nice reading for sociologists. Waste of time for economists.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The Case for Immigration 25 Aug. 2011
By Erez Davidi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a recent interview, Ian Goldin said (and I am paraphrasing) that if he was ever made dictator of the world for one day he would prohibit people who don't believe in globalization from consuming or using any product that was produced in a foreign country or was made from raw materials that have come from other countries. These people will be so miserable. They will not be able to use cell phones, cars, etc... Well, you get the point.

In this book, the authors lay down the case that immigration is good for the sending countries, it's good for the receiving countries, it's good for the migrant and it's good for the world in general. The authors provide plenty of empirical evidence to back this argument. To state a few:

1.According to data from the World Bank, migrants send back home over $350 billion a year, a sum much greater than all world aid granted to developing nations.

2. A big part of this money goes to education for the next generation, which helps grow the economy over the long run.

3. At an aggregate level, immigration stimulates the economy of receiving countries because low skilled foreign workers often take the jobs that are not wanted by native workers. Furthermore, by taking these jobs, business are able to offer services at a lower price which every consumer benefits from. According to the authors, "in the late 1980s and 1990s U.S. cities that had high levels of immigration saw reductions in the costs of housekeeping, gardening, child care, dry cleaning, and other labor intensive services." (p.167).

4. A common fallacy is that foreign workers rely on social benefits and therefore are a drag on taxpayers and the economy in general. According to the authors this is just not true: "Research based on data from 2004 to 2008 on the net fiscal impact of the immigration of Polish, Czech, and other migrants to the UK from ten countries that joined the European Union in 2004 showed that the migrants contributed 'significantly' more in taxes than they received in benefits and services." (p.170).

5. Highly skilled foreign workers also contribute by starting new businesses and creating new jobs. Migrants have founded Google, Intel, PayPal, eBay and Yahoo. Moreover, migrants account for around 25% of all global patent applications from the United States.

This book couldn't have been published at a better time when governments all over the world have been implementing stricter and stricter rules against immigration due to the financial crisis. Hopefully, policy-makers will read this book and implement some of its ideas.

In conclusion, this book is well argued and researched. It has plenty of interesting statistics and profound ideas that will be greatly appreciated by people interested in such topics. Highly recommended.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Is (Increased) International Migration Good for Humanity? 11 July 2011
By Serge J. Van Steenkiste - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron, and Meera Balarajan set themselves the ambitious goal of challenging the dogma that an increase in cross-border migration is undesirable. To that end, Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan first review the key role that migrants played in spreading ideas and knowledge before the advent of modern communication technologies. The authors analyze subsequently the contemporary period of managed migration that arose in the wake of WWI. Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan do a great job in highlighting the paradox in which the world has operated mostly for the last century. Humanity lives in an increasingly globalized environment. At the same time, the international flow of people has never been as tightly regulated as it is today.

The authors share with their audience the evidence that clearly show that sending and receiving countries as well as a majority of migrants benefit from migration today.

Many developed countries face concomitantly shrinking workforces and aging populations, resulting in a higher economic demand for low-skilled workers. Many (service) jobs will not fall prey to technology. Furthermore, undocumented migration has been quietly tolerated for a long time. These (low-skilled) migrants are meeting critical needs in the economies of the receiving countries. Think for example about the agricultural sector in the United States. In addition, enterprises, especially the large companies, will keep the pressure on (elected) officials to admit more high-skilled workers, especially in academic, business, and technologies. Businesses are often interested in hiring people with cross-cultural skills and perspectives and the education to thrive in an information-driven environment. Think for example about the high-skilled immigrants who often end up founding enterprises, which create much-needed jobs in the United States. The competition for this talent is expected to gain in intensity along with the rise of emerging economies.

To their credit, Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan note with much honesty that while the fiscal impact of migration in a country like the United States is strongly positive at the national level, it can be substantially negative at state and local levels. What matters more than absolute sizes of migration populations is the rate at which they grow.

The authors conclude that raising taxes, postponing retirement, convincing more women to work (with childcare, part-time work, and other incentives) and rolling back public services will probably not be enough to overcome the economic consequences of dramatic demographic changes in many developed economies. Interestingly, Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan debunk the idea that climate change will result in a "horde" of up to 200 million "environmental refugees" by 2050. International migration has been historically contemplated only when the socio-economic livelihood of people is severely and permanently impaired and domestic alternatives are exhausted.

Sending countries often benefit paradoxically from skilled emigration to developed countries despite its near-term negative impact. High rate of unemployment among skilled professionals is behind most "brain drain" emanating from developing countries. Increasingly, sending countries view skilled migrants who have worked abroad return home to foster new industries or chart a new political path ("brain circulation"). Think for example about the skilled migrants who return to India after working in the United States for some time. Furthermore, sending countries benefit from the remittances received from their migrants abroad, which represent their largest source of external finance. Think for example about the positive effects of remittances on the Mexican economy. However, the economic effects of remittances on the economies of sending countries should not be unduly exaggerated. Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan conclude by saying that international immigration and remittances significantly reduce the level, depth, and severity of poverty in the developing economies.

The majority of migrants, with the notable exceptions of trafficked people, a.k.a. "modern slaves", and asylum seekers, are economically better off for moving, especially those who move from developing to developed countries. However, Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan note that the wage, education, and healthcare gains experienced by most migrants are qualified by the obstacles that they face in their countries of adoption. Migrants still experience xenophobia and social exclusion in many developed countries, especially when economic crisis or insecurity is gaining in traction. Think for example about what the authors call "downward assimilation," which is particularly noticeable among Latinos in the United States.

Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan expect that international migration will continue its upward trend in the next fifty years due to the following six interrelated factors:
1. Persistent inter-country inequality and wage disparities;
2. Economic growth in the poorest countries;
3. Rural displacement and urbanization;
4. Rising education standards in developing countries;
5. Growing working-age populations in developing countries;
6. Environmental stress.

Simultaneously, growing labor and demographic gaps in many developed countries will pressurize policymakers to bring in more migrants to fill in these gaps. These countries will not be able to meet the growing gaps in their workforces through growth in undocumented migration that has been quietly tolerated. Unfortunately, the authors address nowhere the issue of increasing structural unemployment that exists in many developed economies ("brain waste").

For these reasons, Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan call for a global migration agenda to harness the many benefits of increased migration while minimizing and mitigating its costs. The status quo is deemed not to be sustainable because it is rooted in an antiquated, piecemeal doctrine of national primacy in managing international migration. The authors note that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) does not have the necessary legitimacy, governance, or executive power to change this status quo. The common objection raised against that global migration agenda is that receiving and sending countries are not better off with greater international mobility. Hopefully, Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan will manage to convince an increasing number of decision-makers that migration is a defining characteristic of human societies and a driving force of global history for the better.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The subject of immigration is a controversial topic; kudos to the authors for stirring up a little controversy. 19 Dec. 2012
By Charles Lewis Sizemore, CFA - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"We live in a dynamic age of global integration, where the reconnection and mixture of the world's people is challenging dominant norms and practices in many societies," write Goldin, Cameron and Balarajan. "Disintegration and integration are simultaneous and interwoven. Cultural codes adapt. New economies emerge. Innovation prospers. Social institutions struggle to adapt.

"To many, the challenges associated with migration are characteristic of our age of postmodernism, multiculturalism, and aspiring cosmopolitanism. Some are nostalgic for an illusory past when people had more in common... Outsiders have always encountered opposition from their adoptive societies. Nevertheless, the direction of history points to the persistent expansion in the boundaries of community. Our cultural and political frontiers have gradually receded."

The authors use eloquent words to describe a delicate topic. Immigration--legal or otherwise--is a lightning rod, particularly in an election year. It could be lumped with politics and religion as a subject best not discussed at the dinner table unless, of course, you enjoy a good case of heartburn.

Immigration is also a subject in which political and ideological lines tend to get a little blurry. Neither party has a coherent platform on the issue. In the Republican Party, there are two distinct camps: the "pro-business" party elite who favor a looser immigration policy and the "blood and soil" base who would like to see the border sealed air tight. For the business lobby, a liberal immigration policy means abundant and affordable labor. But at the nativist grassroots level, restricting immigration has become a do-or-die mission to preserve American values; taking a soft line is something tantamount to treason. If it were possible to feel pity for a politician, one might feel sorry for a Republican candidate attempting to navigate this minefield. You need the votes of populists to get elected, but you also need the campaign donations of the business community. You can't keep everyone happy, and there is not a lot of room for compromise.

While immigration is less of a campaign issue for Democrats, the Democratic Party is no less conflicted on the subject. As a party dedicated to looking after the downtrodden, supporting the plight of immigrants only makes sense. But this is also the same party that supports organized labor, and cheap immigrant labor is anathema to unions. One's liberal heart might bleed, but it won't matter much if you need union support to get elected. Furthermore, immigrants themselves cannot vote (at least not until naturalized as citizens), whereas union supporters do. When push comes to shove, it's not hard to see which way most Democrats will vote.

I tend to take a contrarian view on immigration: given the demographic challenges the country faces, America needs more of it--a lot more of it. Most politicians--and economists too, for that matter--only look at the "supply" side of the equation, viewing immigrants as labor inputs. I tend to focus instead on the "demand" side, viewing immigrants as consumers. Contrary to rantings of many a radio talk-show host, immigrants do not "send all of their money to (fill-in-the-blank name of country)." Quite a bit of it gets spent here. And given the dearth of consumer demand in the years following the 2008 crisis, we'll take consumer demand from any source we can get.

With all of this as an introduction, in the pages that follow we are going to review an insightful new book on the subject of immigration by Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron and Meera Balarajan: Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future.

Exceptional People is an exceptional book. It is part history book part psychological profile and part political manifesto for free trade and free movement of people. The authors repeatedly stress the point that the movement of ideas, goods and services, and--yes--people has been the driving force for human progress over the centuries. The very idea of civilization itself--people living together in community--involved migration. And the future, however it might unfold, will be defined by how trade and migration are managed today. As the authors point out, immigrants to the United States founded many of the cutting edge technology firms that have defined the past decade, including Google ($GOOG), Intel ($INTC), PayPal, eBay ($EBAY), and Yahoo ($YHOO). And more than a quarter of all global patent applications from the United States are filed by immigrants--even though immigrants make up less than 12 percent of the population. A world with less immigration will be a world with less innovation.

The Economic Arguments for Immigration

"International migration pays dividends to sending countries, receiving countries, and migrants themselves," the authors explain. "In receiving countries, it promotes innovation, boosts economic growth, and enriches social diversity, and it is a boon for public finance. Sending countries have their economies stimulated by the financial and social feedback of migrant networks. Migrants reap the welfare benefits of higher wages, better education, and improved health when they move to relatively more developed countries."

If all of this is true and immigration is such a wonderful thing, then why do so many people feel threatened by it? As the authors explain, immigration suffers from the same primary challenge as free trade. The benefits are spread out across the general population and are difficult to isolate and measure, whereas the costs tend to be highly visible and localized.

Yes, immigration expands the economy and helps keep inflation in check for all of us; but if you are a directly competing with immigrant labor or a taxpayer having to fund the construction of new schools in your area to educate the children of immigrants, you might not particularly care. (In the same sense, we all benefit from low-priced imports, but for the small minority who find their job "outsourced" the cost is devastating.)

It is an often-used argument that immigrants do jobs that Americans won't do. Whether this is precisely true or not is debatable; many jobs that Americans "won't" do might get done at the right price. This is really an irrelevant point, however. As the authors explain, "Low-skilled foreign workers often provide services--such as home care or child care--that release skilled workers into the labor market."

Yes, but what does this actually mean? As they continue, "When a low-skilled migrant from Mexico moves to California and offers affordable child care, a mother staying at home is released to join the workforce. Through the movement of one person, two people enter the workforce, and they will both earn wages that are spent on goods and services. Migration produces its own multiplier effects. Such indirect and second-order effects of migration are still underspecified, and the overall contribution of migrants to economic growth is therefore underestimated."

Well said. It's not so much that low-skilled immigrants do jobs that Americans won't do; it's more like they create jobs that didn't exist before. Without the presence of affordable immigrant labor, Americans might simply do their housecleaning and yard work themselves, which takes time away from more productive activities.

Of course, not all immigrants are low-skilled. "Highly skilled migrants typically work in growing sectors of the economy, or in areas such as health care, education, and information technology that are short of native workers." One need only look at the diverse workforces of technology hubs like Silicon Valley or Austin, Texas--or simply visit their local hospital--to understand what the authors are saying.

Immigrants are also beneficial to the countries they leave behind. In addition to sending cash remittances to family, immigrants also often return home with knowledge and experience from their time in a foreign country. The authors gave an example that I personally found fascinating. Being married to a Peruvian, I make several trips to Peru each year. Scattered around Lima is a chain of chicken restaurants called Norky's.

Frankly, I had never thought twice about the restaurant. The food is good, but then, so is most food in Peru. (If you've never been to a Peruvian restaurant, find one. Order lomo saltado and wash it down with a cold glass of chicha morada.) The authors give an interesting account of the restaurant chain's founding:

"The incentives for brain gain in sending countries may also be supported by skilled migrants who have worked abroad and return home to foster new industries. The point is illustrated by the story of Luis Miyashiro, an entrepreneur in Peru.

"Miyashiro is a Peruvian national who moved to Japan for several years under the Nikkeijin visa program, designed to attract those with ancestral connections to work in Japan. After several years in Japan, he returned to Lima and founded Norkys, a chain of chicken restaurants. The new chain renovated the food-stand concept that is popular in Lima by adding Japanese standards of cleanliness and efficiency. The new fast food chain was launched with ideas and capital from Japan, and it was the first of its type in an Andean country.

"The example of Norkys exemplifies how return migration can stimulate local development, and it also illustrates the transmission of `social remittances'--`ideas, behaviours, identities and social capital that flow from receiving-to sending-country communities.'"

For every household name like Norky's (well, household in Peru, anyway), there are countless smaller success stories.

Immigration: Historical Perspective

Liberal attitudes towards immigration are not a libertarian pipedream, nor are they a trendy new theory cooked up in an ivory tower. The authors note that Francesco de Vitoria (1492-1546), considered by many to be the founder of international law, expressed a popular view in his day when he wrote that "It was permissible from the beginning of the world, when everything was in common, for anyone to set forth and travel wheresoever he would."

These views continued to grow in popularity throughout the age of exploration, colonial era, and even the Industrial Revolution. As the authors write, "This first era of globalization was accompanied by tectonic movements of people, who took advantage of global transportation networks to search for greater opportunity and security... A doctrine of economic liberalism prevailed in the new, global economy: it was believed that people, goods, and capital should be free to move where they would produce the highest returns."

Alas, it wouldn't last forever. By the early 1900s, attitudes towards immigration had started to shift. "The dramatic international population movements of the nineteenth century were gradually eclipsed as war, nationalism, and increasingly effective state bureaucracies led to the introduction of new restrictions on migration."

When Europe tore itself apart in the First World War, open borders were one of the casualties of war. And conditions didn't improve with the coming of peace. "The peace that followed World War I was fragile, and nationalism and economic insecurity defined the priorities of European states. Trade protectionism returned with a vengeance, and economic and political failure was often blamed on foreigners."

Of course, trade protectionism exacerbated the Great Depression and helped lead to World War II. It wasn't until after the war that policymakers began to seriously consider immigration again. But during this second age of globalization, things would be different. Immigration would not be considered a God-given right of mankind, but rather as an issue to be managed by government.

Parting Thoughts

For many readers, Exceptional People will be controversial. As I noted at the beginning of this article, immigration is a divisive issues that tends to get an emotional response. I encourage our readers to give the book a read and to keep an open mind. I am certainly not an ideologue and concede that in the age of the modern welfare state immigration is more expensive to receiving countries than it used to be. But at the same time, the economic issues facing the country are different than those of ages past.

In America--and even more so in Europe and Japan--how will the state be able to keep its pension and health promises to retiring workers without a steady stream of new immigrant workers contributing to the system? How can we keep the economy growing when the Baby Boomers--the biggest and richest generation in history--are spending less and saving for retirement?

There are no perfect solutions to these problems, and immigration alone will not solve them. But given the severity and importance of the issues, we can use every bit of help we can get.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Interesting and thought provoking 11 Mar. 2012
By Sam B - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The title is slightly misleading - this is about Migration.

The author covers 3 parts, the distant history, current, and future probably trends, or at least what the author would like to see.

I was somewhat surprised by recent history, where very big numbers involved the Turks and Greece etc, but History was not my pet subject when I was at school. So that was good. The Author makes comparisons worldwide, and not time bound, drawing parallels to make a point.

The following six interrelated factors are put in evidence:
1. Persistent inter-country inequality and wage disparities;
2. Economic growth in the poorest countries;
3. Rural displacement and urbanization;
4. Rising education standards in developing countries;
5. Growing working-age populations in developing countries;
6. Environmental stress.

I get the feeling that he concentrates much on the macro level, and somewhat skips over the micro - cultural resistance, which then leads him to state that "we" must do this and that (fight xenophobia for example)

Clearly,over the next 50 years or so, the quoted previous factor of economic disparity of about 1 to 5 or 10, some 200 years ago between countries, and now 1 to 400 will decrease, partly through the lowering of barriers to migration (Internet info,travel costs etc) and that is quite worthy in itself.

One wonders if given the ageing population in the west, and desirability to migrate today, whether the window of opportunity will remain, if the west remains on it's present tack of restricting migration as it does today.
If the west does not do something fairly quickly, it may be left out! and suffer substantially as a consequence.
One does not eradicate xenophobia that quickly in a population that has been fed on "fear" over decades.
Timely, informative and relevant 21 Sept. 2012
By Ian T. Webber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The title of this book seems a playful and thought-provoking bait to any reader searching for a collection of biographies of famous or notorious celebrities, geniuses or leaders. Instead we are encouraged to invert a common perception of immigrants as a threat or burden to the territory they enter, to see them rather as significant net contributors to wealth. The book seeks to bring a broad historical and current economic perspective to one of the most politically sensitive issues of our age. Its scope embraces arguments about globalization, demographics, and justice.

The first part is a gallop through world history with an emphasis on the key role human migration has played to the extent that it is almost impossible to postulate a civilized and advanced world without it. Historic parallels may need to be tempered by important qualitative differences between the early diffusion of human groups over thousands of years and more rapid recent migrations. These chapters choose to highlight the economic and cultural progress flowing from migration, but play down the destructive aspects of conquest and colonization.

The second section of the book focuses on the modern era particularly on government policies that have gone back and forth and often seemed to embody contradictory attitudes. Much detailed attention is given to the varied attempts to regulate migration in the past 50 years or so. The costs and benefits of migration to both the migrants themselves and the receiving communities are analyzed with the conclusion that there is a substantial net benefit to both. There is an "unleashing of productivity" that results. Of course this is an overall and longterm result, and may not be a comfort to some who do not prosper.

The third part of the book is aimed at the future. Recommendations are based not only on the general productivity argument but also put forward a short-term solution to the needs of aging populations in the many parts of the world. This promises a viable mediumterm reining in of dependency ratios but merely postpones the more difficult problem of longterm worldwide senescence, because the input of younger able workers from high birth rate regions requires continuing net global population growth.

In summary this book provides a comprehensive examination of economic effects of migration. An impressive survey of relevant economic statistics is marshaled and reviewed. Readers whose aspiration to preserve specific cultural forms or consanguinity cannot be countered by arguments for the general economic good may not be swayed. For those who wonder about economic arguments that migration is generally "bad for jobs" or tends to create poverty and exploitation, this book presents firm evidence against those results. On the contrary less restrictive policies would allow more "exceptional people" to contribute to the wealth and culture of the world.

Sidenote: the design on the inner covers shows migration maps based on some of the most up-to-date geographical genetic analyses. The reader would have to look to other sources for any explanation of the underlying assumptions and techniques.
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