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Tuesday, September 19, 2006 

Migration Dynamics and Policy Choices
In a recent book by Lant Pritchett, “Let Their People Come: Breaking the Gridlock on Global Labor Mobility”, the problematique of cross-border mobility for unskilled labor, is traced in parallel with the increasing pressures applied by demographic expansions, and the political constructs that frame migration policies within integrated and liberalized economies.

What’s in it for the poor, and more specifically for developing nations are crucial to be addressed, given the fact that properly managed migration flows can deliver major benefits in terms of development and poverty reduction.

In fact in this ongoing debate, the whole paradigm center matters of impacts (distributional costs and benefits) around political and ethical issues that more than often drive policymaking within clustered channels wrapped around conservative views and approaches to migration policies and regulations.
If we consider for one second, or turn around the current discourses vis-à-vis costs and benefits projections, it might occur that evenly distributed migration patterns between and within countries could streamline approaches/strategies to enhance the distributional factors toward certain types of migration in order to make it work for the poor.

It goes without saying that these ideas are really interesting for the Caribbean and its regional development goals due to the fact that over the last couple of years, we have been witnessing severe imbalances between its international migration patterns, and the needs to harmonize a regional migration framework to compensate its losses in terms of human capital, labor market distribution and welfare stabilization, see here.

In an increasingly liberalized and integrated global economy, with more open capital and goods and services markets, the highly restricted and heavily regulated markets for global labor are an oddity. In this controversial book, CGD non-resident fellow Lant Pritchett examines the potentials and perils of greater cross-border mobility of unskilled labor -- within poor world regions and between poor and rich countries. Pritchett argues that irresistible demographic forces for greater international labor mobility are being checked by immovable anti-immigration ideas of rich-country citizens. He highlights the difficult political and ethical issues that the movement of people across national borders presents to the current system and proposes breaking the gridlock through policies that support development while also being politically acceptable in rich countries. These include greater use of temporary worker permits, permit rationing, reliance on bilateral rather than multilateral agreements, and protection of migrants' fundamental human rights. Pritchett's discussion of ways to break the deadlock is a provocative contribution to the growing debate on one of the most important and difficult issues of the 21st century.

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