Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Burgh Diaspora

linked-globe

(Photo: Toria/Shutterstock)

How Talent Migration Facilitates the Diffusion of Globalization

• March 19, 2014 • 1:16 PM

(Photo: Toria/Shutterstock)

Openness to immigration behaves in the same way as openness to trade.

Globalization is dependent on migration, more so after the financial crisis than before. I studied globalization in graduate school during the late 1990s. We discussed how globalization impacted migration, not the other way around. “The Effect of Trade and Migration on Income“:

In this paper we re-examine the relationship between economic openness and economic development, emphasizing a different dimension of openness. During the last century (especially before World War I and again since the 1980’s), a crucial aspect of openness has operated through international migration flows. This channel remained neglected in the literature because of the limited size of migration flows during the 1930-1970 period. However, migration flows have played a key role in the historical and economic development of many countries,particularly those in the New World. Migrants brought ideas, skills, and labor, providing an important channel for the international diffusion of knowledge. As recently emphasized by Putterman and Weil (2010) these migration flows have had extremely persistent effects.

Emphasis added. When the period of limited migration flows ended, the world underwent a dramatic transformation. The typical migrant flipped from poorest and least educated to wealthiest and most educated. However, did globalization cause migration patterns to change or did shifting migration patterns spur globalization? The above paper gets at this chicken-or-egg problem, establishing that openness to immigration behaves in the same way as openness to trade. Openness to trade is conventional wisdom for the spread of globalization. Now add to that openness to immigration.

How does international migration act as an agent of globalization? This is one of my primary research questions for understanding the relationship between Rust Belt cities and globalization. I hypothesize that return migrants from global cities such as New York are globalizing neighborhoods in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. These neighborhoods are the engines of economic development for an entire region.

While thinking about yesterday’s post, I realized I was trying to channel Robert Guest’s book, Borderless Economics. Guest, through storytelling, describes how migration begets globalization. So you don’t have to read the book, he sums up his argument nicely in this Foreign Policy article titled “In Praise of Brain Drain“:

Diaspora networks have been around for centuries, but they have grown much more powerful of late, for three reasons. First, they are bigger than ever before. Seventy million Chinese live outside mainland China, and 22 million Indians live outside India. There are also hundreds of smaller networks, from the Lebanese in West Africa to the South Koreans in the United States. All told, there are 215 million first-generation migrants in the world, an increase of 40 percent since 1990. …

… Third, the places from which migrants come, such as India, China, and Africa, are much more open to trade than they were a generation ago. When China was a closed society, overseas Chinese traders had to make do with linking one foreign port with another. Now they link the world to China and China to the world.

These merchants speak the language, understand the culture, and know whom to trust. In countries where the rule of law is unreliable — which includes most fast-growing emerging markets — this matters. Some 70 percent of foreign direct investment into mainland China passes through the Chinese diaspora, broadly defined. American firms that hire Chinese-Americans find it easier to do business in China without the aid of a joint venture.

I picked out the passage that best links yesterday’s half-baked attempt to show how globalization has changed to the agency of migration (subject of today’s post). Speaking the language, understanding the culture, and knowing whom to trust are necessary for the diffusion of globalization. No matter where in the world you are, global neighborhoods look similar. Urban gentrification attracts the same kind of backlash in Germany and India. Migrants make it so.

Jim Russell
Jim Russell is a geographer studying the relationship between migration and economic development.

More From Jim Russell

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

October 24 • 4:00 PM

We Need to Normalize Drug Use in Our Society

After the disastrous misconceptions of the 20th century, we’re returning to the idea that drugs are an ordinary part of life experience and no more cause addiction than do other behaviors. This is rational and welcome.


October 24 • 2:00 PM

A Letter to the Next Attorney General: Fix Presidential Pardons

More than two years ago, a series showed that white applicants were far more likely to receive clemency than comparable applicants who were black. Since then, the government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a study, but the pardons system remains unchanged.


October 24 • 12:00 PM

What Makes You So Smart, Middle School Math Teacher?

Noah Davis talks to Vern Williams about what makes middle school—yes, middle school—so great.


October 24 • 10:00 AM

Why DNA Is One of Humanity’s Greatest Inventions

How we’ve co-opted our genetic material to change our world.


October 24 • 8:00 AM

What Do Clowns Think of Clowns?

Three major players weigh in on the current state of the clown.


October 24 • 7:13 AM

There Is No Surge in Illegal Immigration

The overall rate of illegal immigration has actually decreased significantly in the last 10 years. The time is ripe for immigration reform.


October 24 • 6:15 AM

Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.


October 24 • 5:00 AM

Why We Gossip: It’s Really All About Ourselves

New research from the Netherlands finds stories we hear about others help us determine how we’re doing.


October 24 • 2:00 AM

Congratulations, Your City Is Dying!

Don’t take population numbers at face value.


October 23 • 4:00 PM

Of Course Marijuana Addiction Exists

The polarized legalization debate leads to exaggerated claims and denials about pot’s potential harms. The truth lies somewhere in between.


October 23 • 2:00 PM

American Companies Are Getting Way Too Cozy With the National Security Agency

Newly released documents describe “contractual relationships” between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as undercover operatives.


October 23 • 12:00 PM

The Man Who’s Quantifying New York City

Noah Davis talks to the proprietor of I Quant NY. His methodology: a little something called “addition.”


October 23 • 11:02 AM

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.


October 23 • 10:00 AM

The Psychology of Bribery and Corruption

An FBI agent offered up confidential information about a political operative’s enemy in exchange for cash—and they both got caught. What were they thinking?


October 23 • 8:00 AM

Ebola News Gives Me a Guilty Thrill. Am I Crazy?

What it means to feel a little excited about the prospect of a horrific event.


October 23 • 7:04 AM

Why Don’t Men Read Romance Novels?

A lot of men just don’t read fiction, and if they do, structural misogyny drives them away from the genre.


October 23 • 6:00 AM

Why Do Americans Pray?

It depends on how you ask.


October 23 • 4:00 AM

Musicians Are Better Multitaskers

New research from Canada finds trained musicians more efficiently switch from one mental task to another.


October 22 • 4:00 PM

The Last Thing the Women’s Movement Needs Is a Heroic Male Takeover

Is the United Nations’ #HeForShe campaign helping feminism?


October 22 • 2:00 PM

Turning Public Education Into Private Profits

Baker Mitchell is a politically connected North Carolina businessman who celebrates the power of the free market. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell’s chain of four non-profit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.


October 22 • 12:00 PM

Will the End of a Tax Loophole Kill Off Irish Business and Force Google and Apple to Pay Up?

U.S. technology giants have constructed international offices in Dublin in order to take advantage of favorable tax policies that are now changing. But Ireland might have enough other draws to keep them there even when costs climb.


October 22 • 10:00 AM

Veterans in the Ivory Tower

Why there aren’t enough veterans at America’s top schools—and what some people are trying to do to change that.


October 22 • 8:00 AM

Our Language Prejudices Don’t Make No Sense

We should embrace the fact that there’s no single recipe for English. Making fun of people for replacing “ask” with “aks,” or for frequently using double negatives just makes you look like the unsophisticated one.


October 22 • 7:04 AM

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.


October 22 • 6:00 AM

How We Form Our Routines

Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee or a glass of warm milk before bed, we all have our habitual processions. The way they become engrained, though, varies from person to person.


Follow us


Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.