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Review: New and Helpful Insights Into Migration 

Paul Collier
Exodus – Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century

Thousands crossing the channel in small boats; tragically a family with children drowned just last week. The debate about migration is often polarised and oversimplified – ‘migration has been politicized before it has been analyzed’. It is a complex social and economic phenomenon with decisions made at an individual, state and supra-state levels. Unpacking fact from fiction, explaining the drivers for migration, the impact on migrants, host and sending nations and much more is set out in a rational and objective manner in this book.

Paul Collier is a Professor in Development Economics in Oxford and former head of research at the World Bank and the grandson of migrant. He has spent his career investigating the position of the poorest people – the bottom billion in the world. Why some countries are poor, and others manage to climb out of poverty is due to what, he terms, the social model. The model is the combination of institutions, rules, norms and organisations of a country. Whilst models differ, all high income societies have social models that function remarkable well.

Why do people migrate? Essentially migrants are ‘escaping from countries with dysfunctional social models.’ The larger the size of the gap in income, the greater the pressure to migrate. Yet it is not the very poor who migrate because to migrate is expensive and needs investment. The cost of migration is eased by the presence in the host country of a diaspora from the country of origin. Collier suggests that the rate of migration is determined by the width of the income gap, the level of income in the countries of origin, and the size of the diaspora.

Economists love to simplify and model the dynamics of interacting factors. Collier creates a helpful model to help understand the diaspora and the links to the rate of migration and rate of absorption into the culture of the host country. The larger the diaspora the slower the rate of absorption, leading to accelerated migration unless the host nation curbs the number of people allowed to enter the country.

Migration creates consequences for the migrants themselves, the host country they arrive in, and the country of origin. This book explores carefully from a social and economic perspective how each of these are impacted. For Collier when developing migration policy asking whether migration is good or bad is the wrong question. Rather, he asks about ‘the likely effects at the margin should migration continue to accelerate?’ There is a chapter exploring ‘Nations and Nationalism’ before developing a package of potential policy suggestions from setting ceilings, selectivity criteria and integration requirements.

Collier concludes with the view that mass migration is a temporary response to ‘an ugly phase in which prosperity has not yet globalized’. Others argue that it is likely to be a prolonged response as global warming impacts on the prosperity of many already poor nations. This book will certainly give you new and helpful insights into migration, the cultural, social and economic consequences for sending and receiving countries and the people involved.

Review by Canon Mike D Williams