the new migration and development optimism

the new migration and development optimism
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migration and development mania
migration and development mania
the new ‘migration-and-development’ optimism
• migration benefits everyone if the policies are right
– migrants win through expanding freedoms and higher living
standards, but risk vulnerability
– destination countries win through cheap low-skill labour and
new ideas, but risk ethnic tensions
– origin countries win through remittances and knowledge
transfers, but risk brain drain
– the risks of migration are best minimized (and rewards
maximized) by promoting ‘circulation’ and ‘engaging diasporas’
 Stark and Bloom (1985) The new economics of labour migration, The
American Economic Review 75(2): 173-78.
the old optimism: 1950s-60s
• Kindleberger (1965) Emigration and
Economic Growth. Banca Natzionale
Del Lavoro Quarterly Review, 28,
• key ideas
– migration balances wage
– rising wages at source promote
 laissez faire approach leads to
‘balanced growth’
 background: postwar growth drives
demand for migrant labour
jethro tull’s seed drill
rural labour ‘freed’ to work in industry
Image sources:
the old pessimism: 1970s-80s
Papademetriou & Martin (1991) The unsettled
relationship: labor migration and economic
development. New York/London: Greenwood.
Castles and Kosack (1973) Immigrant workers and
class structure in Western Europe. London: Oxford
University Press.
• key ideas:
– migration driven by capitalist exploitation
– ‘asymetric growth’: destinations win, but
origins and migrants lose
 neo-marxist economic theory
 background: oil-shocks reduce demand
for migrant labour and ethnic tensions
Turkish Guest Workers in Germany, 1969
Mexican Braceros compare paychecks, 1956
Images: Photo by Leonard Nadel
the new optimism: 1990s-2000s
• key ideas:
– migration generally benefits all, provided the
policies are right
– the right policies involve circular migration and
engaging diasporas
‘third-way’ neoliberal economic theory
background: search for ways of ‘governing
the new optimism: 1990s-2000s
• states see need to
cooperate, but unwilling to
accept centrally imposed
global migration governance
• search for areas where
interests coincide
– migration and development
optimism suggests a grand
bargain is possible if states
• e.g. Rolph Jenny 2006
Image source:
• migration and development thinking has swung
back and forth from optimism to pessimism since
the 1950s at least
• the new migration and development optimism
offers states a starting point for cooperation over
migration, in lieu of global migration governance
• the way we think about the impacts of migration
is driven not only by social science but by wider
historical factors