Monday, June 11, 2007

Migration and Development

The NY Times Magazine has a feature on Lant Pritchett, an economist working on development. Pritchett has an unconventional approach to global poverty - and one that seems politically far-fetched at the moment - he believes that rich countries should take a much larger number of guest workers from poor countries.
The rich world has lots of well-paying jobs and an aging population that cannot fill them. The poor world has desperate workers. But while goods and capital can easily cross borders, modern labor cannot. This strikes Pritchett as bad economics and worse social justice. He likens the limits on labor mobility to “apartheid on a global scale.” Think Desmond Tutu with equations.
The whole article is worth reading, but here are a couple of amusing tidbits:
  • Pritchett’s Harvard students rallied against all kinds of evils, he writes, but “I never heard the chants, ‘Hey, ho, restrictions on labor mobility have to go.’ ”
  • But the greatest risk posed by the Pritchett plan is cultural conflict, or even conflagration, which Pritchett greets with a shrug. “I don’t think about it a lot because I’m an economist,” he says.


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