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Migration is part of development. She can not be wished away. (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)

June 29, 2018

By Christoph Eisenring

Western politicians are calling for more development aid so that fewer people are leaving their countries. But that will not work, says the economist Michael Clemens: When poor countries develop, migration initially increases.

From 1870 to 1913 about every fifth Swede left his country. Most emigrated to the USA. That had nothing to do with the fact that Sweden was in chaos during this time. Rather, this exodus is typical of the development of a traditional to an industrialized nation, says the migration expert Michael Clemens who works at the Washington think tank Center for Global Development. His thesis is that emigration is almost always part of the transformation to an economically successful country. One should not lose sight of this when Western politicians are currently seeing the panacea as being more involved in poor countries and increasing development aid. The idea may be obvious at first glance: if the countries were doing better, fewer young people would leave their homelands, and migratory pressure on industrialized countries would decrease, is hope. But such promises must lead to a disappointment, says the economist, who is also associated with the Research Institute for the Future of Labor (IZA) in Bonn.

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Photo of Michael Clemens
Co-Director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and Senior Fellow