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A new study by Michael Clemens and Hannah Postel of the Centre for Global Development compares those Haitians who secured visas through the project with unsuccessful applicants left behind. The benefits were mind-boggling: the temporary migrants earned a monthly income 1,400% higher than those back in Haiti. Most of their earnings flowed back home in the form of remittances. For comparison, a 10-30% raise would normally be cause for celebration.
The sample for the study was small. But its findings match those for a similar scheme that offered temporary agricultural work in New Zealand to people from Tonga and Vanuatu. That policy was assessed by economists at the World Bank as “among the most effective development policies evaluated to date”.
Mr Clemens is sure that if the project could get big enough it would be cost-effective. After a winter break, Mr Hegeman’s employees are back from Haiti, “smiling from ear to ear”. He worries that, unless PTP secures the funding to help them navigate the bureaucracy, this year might be their last in Alabama.