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The World Cup kicks off today in Russia, and for the players who perform well, it could earn them a transformative move to a European club. Are these moves a boon for fans and development, or are they an example of how migration and money have gone too far?
The United States will be changing how it admits foreign farm workers. Done right, this presents a big opportunity to meet clear goals of the current administration: to reduce unauthorized migration and create US jobs. Three core tenets to keep in mind: non-seasonal work, visa portability, and bilateral cooperation.
For at least a couple of decades NGOs and others in developing countries have been designing, evaluating, tinkering, and trying to improve projects and programs that deliver specific in-kind “interventions” to targeted individuals/households in ways that raised their incomes in a sustained way.
Richer countries are under pressure to respond to and suppress high levels of irregular migration reaching their borders. One prominent recommendation is for richer countries to expand opportunities for lawful or regular migration. Suppose they do. Will more regular migration simply raise migration overall, or will it substitute for and reduce irregular migration?
An increasingly common justification for European development assistance to Africa is the notion that it will reduce migration from the South. While this sounds intuitive and makes for an appealing argument, the research shows that it is highly unlikely. As communities become less poor, more people gain the abilities and wherewithal to undertake an expensive journey to a better life elsewhere. Development often increases migration—at least initially.
One of the mysteries of development economics is why more people in subsistence agriculture don't migrate to cities where incomes are much, much higher. New data suggests one answer: when they move, their incomes may not go up as much as we thought.
Migration out of poor countries will continue throughout this century. By wishing otherwise, and devoting all their attention to walling themselves in, politicians will miss a vast opportunity to shape that migration in ways that benefit all parties involved. That window of opportunity is open now. But it will not remain open long.