Monday, February 1, 2010

Controversial Proposition of the Week

This article argues that more emigration would help Haiti.  That is, if you want to help Haitians, let them leave as the only ones above a very low standard for poverty are those who have already left.  Not only would this help the folks who leave, but it would help those that stay behind:
Dilip Ratha, a top expert on remittances, estimates that a full accounting would show that Haitians abroad send home $1.5 billion  to 1.8 billion per year or higher. That is much more than all the foreign aid that Haiti receives. The middle of Ratha's range suggests that remittances account for more than one quarter of Haiti's GDP.
The author proposes that countries change their policies--to focus their immigration on receiving people from the poorest countries.  Very interesting proposition.  Too bad the author doe snot consider why countries do not already do this and what the obstacles might be.

I am no immigration expert, but given that immigration is already pretty unpopular in a lot of places, how much support is there for bringing in people who are going to fill the bottom niches of the economy?  Xenophobia has a lot to do with resentment about sharing the welfare state with others, and these poor Haitians would be seen as costing states and local governments.  I am not opposed to an immigration policy that focuses on the poorest--I just don't think it is likely.  It would have been nice if the proponent of this policy change would have suggested how to make this policy change attractive/politically viable rather than just ignoring the difficulties.

Still, we need to think a bit outside the box since the past efforts have utterly failed.  Of course, they may have failed if the best and brightest have fled the country.  The article completely ignores the opportunity costs to the Haitian economy when people flow out.

No comments: