Let Their People Come: Breaking the Gridlock on International Labor Mobility

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Center for Global Development, 2006 - Business & Economics - 151 pages
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In Let Their People Come, Lant Pritchett discusses five "irresistible forces" of global labor migration, and the "immovable ideas" that form a political backlash against it. Increasing wage gaps, different demographic futures, "everything but labor" globalization, and the continued employment growth in low skilled, labor intensive industries all contribute to the forces compelling labor to migrate across national borders. Pritchett analyzes the fifth irresistible force of "ghosts and zombies," or the rapid and massive shifts in desired populations of countries, and says that this aspect has been neglected in the discussion of global labor mobility. Let Their People Come provides six policy recommendations for unskilled immigration policy that seek to reconcile the irresistible force of migration with the immovable ideas in rich countries that keep this force in check. In clear, accessible prose, this volume explores ways to regulate migration flows so that they are a benefit to both the global North and global South.

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This book changed my thinking about what is the best way to help people around the world. It's remarkable how coercion (armed political borders) keeps so many people from achieving improved wages when increased labor mobility could so readily change a person's income potential. The concept of ghost and zombie nations is very informative. This book is a great wake up call to those who think there is anything close to a level playing field out there in the world. Pritchett explains how large populations of people around the world are essentially frozen in their economic potential and physical space by the existing political boundaries. The most hopeful part of the book is that if labor mobility was expanded, it could dramatically change the economic outlook for incredible amounts of people. I'd recommend this book to anyone serious about improving economic opportunities around the globe.  


Labor Mobility
Myths and Truths

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About the author (2006)

Lant Pritchett is a nonresident fellow at the Center for Global Development and is a lead socioeconomist with the World Bank, based in New Delhi, India. From 2000 to 2004 he was lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has published over fifty journal articles and papers on a range of topics including labor mobility, education, economic growth, poverty, health, safety net programs, population issues, and international trade.

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