What if “best practice” policy did not exist, and a policy maker just went ahead and implemented one? In doing so, would (s)he run the risks associated with inferences drawn from an empty set? For example, “nothing is better than eternal happiness; a ham sandwich is better than nothing; therefore, a ham sandwich is better than eternal happiness”?
As always after an intense ‘immersion’ in our programme work, I left the Philippines with my head buzzing. Here are some impressions, memories and ideas that don’t fit into a more structured blogpost:
Migration: One in 9 Filipinos are outside the country, constituting a major export sector (the government deliberately trains more nurses than the country needs, to encourage outmigration). On the way in from Qatar, I sat next to a Filipino gold miner, working for an Australian/Filipino company in Tanzania, 2 months on, 1 month off. OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers – this country loves acronyms) even have their own immigration channels at the airport (see pic).
The World Economic Forum recently published a very interesting Q&A with Ian Goldin that bore the arresting title: "What if rich countries shut the door on immigration?" Goldin is director of Oxford University's Martin School and in this short Q&A, he provides a thought exercise on the big picture consequences of a theoretical shutting down of immigration in developed countries.
We had an interesting launch event for this volume on July 10th at the World Bank's Infoshop in Washington DC. There have been a number of media reports (see for example the story on Wall Street Journal by Eric Bellman, a Q&A in Mint by Malia Politzer, and another Q&A by Donna Barne). See also related posts on this blog from my co-editors Ibrahim and Jeff on their interventions during the book launch.
Secretary Hillary Clinton is hosting the second Global Diaspora Forum tomorrow (on July 25th and 26th), in an emphatic recognition of the importance of the diasporas in fostering America's diplomatic and financial relationships with their countries of origin. (The size of diasporas in the US is anecdotally mentioned to be somewhere between 60 to 70 million - we don't know for sure and even worse, we don't yet have a consensus on the definition of diasporas.) To make the event accessible beyond the beltway, many sessions including the Secretary’s remarks will be livestreamed on state.gov. Also some parallel diaspora events are taking place at the same time - for example, a Tedx style event is hosted at the University of Minnesota. I understand that key State Department colleagues involved in the diaspora forum have reached out to Canada, the UK and the EU seeking collaboration on diaspora and development issues. Bravo!
Migration and Remittances during the Global Economic Crisis and Beyond is a new book published by the Bank (edited by Sirkeci, Cohen and Ratha - see here). Alongside the main argument that remittances are largely proven to be resilient during the crisis, it reveals few more insights and poses a more questions than it answers. A decline in remittances and migration flows around world was expected at the beginning of the crisis. The dynamics and determinants of why and how remittances sent and used is also of concern. The book is a first step to answer these questions while also bringing academics and practitioners together across disciplines compiling the volume covering 7 regions and 25 country studies. The focus is on those countries with significant remittance inflows and established migration histories. Therefore South Asian countries and some smaller nations receive more attention.
The fears that the economic crisis of 2008 would lead to a decline in remittances and the returns of migrants to their sending countries were largely unfounded. Our volume reveals that while remittances declined following the crisis, they have largely recovered. Three trends that characterize remittances practices globally are:
- More diversified destinations and labor markets lead to more resilient remittances for migrants
- Lower barriers to labor mobility in receiving countries lead to remittances that are larger and critical to the economic health of migrant households.
- Remittance-dependent countries rely on remittance inflows for external financial needs.
These common sense findings are obscured by the myths that surround remittance practices, including:
In the May 2012 edition of the East Asia and Pacific economic update, I wrote that labor migration across East Asia will require more urgent attention from policy makers very soon given the large labor force declines that some countries will face in the next 40 years.