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

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

Recent Posts

October 21 • 8:00 AM

Education Policy Is Stuck in the Manufacturing Age

Refining our policies and teaching social and emotional skills will help us to generate sustained prosperity.


October 21 • 7:13 AM

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.


October 21 • 6:00 AM

Fruits and Vegetables Are About to Enter a Flavor Renaissance

Chefs are teaming up with plant breeders to revitalize bland produce with robust flavors and exotic beauty—qualities long neglected by industrial agriculture.


October 21 • 4:00 AM

She’s Cheating on Him, You Can Tell Just by Watching Them

New research suggests telltale signs of infidelity emerge even in a three- to five-minute video.


October 21 • 2:00 AM

Cheating Demographic Doom: Pittsburgh Exceptionalism and Japan’s Surprising Economic Resilience

Don’t judge a metro or a nation-state by its population numbers.


October 20 • 4:00 PM

The Bird Hat Craze That Sparked a Preservation Movement

How a fashion statement at the turn of the 19th century led to the creation of the first Audubon societies.


October 20 • 2:00 PM

The Risk of Getting Killed by the Police If You Are White, and If You Are Black

An analysis of killings by police shows outsize risk for young black males.


October 20 • 12:00 PM

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.


October 20 • 11:00 AM

My Dog Comes First: The Importance of Pets to Homeless Youth

Dogs and cats have both advantages and disadvantages for street-involved youth.


October 20 • 10:00 AM

Homophobia Is Not a Thing of the Past

Despite growing support for LGBT rights and recent decisions from the Supreme Court regarding the legality of same-sex marriage, the battle for acceptance has not yet been decided.


October 20 • 8:00 AM

Big Boobs Matter Most

Medical mnemonics are often scandalous and sexist, but they help the student to both remember important facts and cope with challenging new experiences.


October 20 • 6:00 AM

When Disease Becomes Political: The Likely Electoral Fallout From Ebola

Will voters blame President Obama—and punish Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections—for a climate of fear?


October 20 • 4:00 AM

Coming Soon: The Anatomy of Ignorance


October 17 • 4:00 PM

What All Military Families Need to Know About High-Cost Lenders

Lessons from over a year on the beat.


October 17 • 2:00 PM

The Majority of Languages Do Not Have Gendered Pronouns

A world without “he.” Or “she.”


October 17 • 11:01 AM

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.


October 17 • 10:00 AM

Can Science Fiction Spur Science Innovation?

Without proper funding, the answer might not even matter.


October 17 • 8:00 AM

Seattle, the Incredible Shrinking City

Seattle is leading the way in the micro-housing movement as an affordable alternative to high-cost city living.


October 17 • 6:00 AM

‘Voodoo Death’ and How the Mind Harms the Body

Can an intense belief that you’re about to die actually kill you? Researchers are learning more about “voodoo death” and how it isn’t limited to superstitious, foreign cultures.


October 17 • 4:00 AM

That Arts Degree Is Paying Off

A survey of people who have earned degrees in the arts find they are doing relatively well, although their education didn’t provide much guidance on managing a career.


October 16 • 4:00 PM

How (Some) Economists Are Like Doomsday Cult Members

Cognitive dissonance and clinging to paradigms even in the face of accumulated anomalous facts.


October 16 • 2:00 PM

The Latest—and Most Mysterious—Player in the Nasty Battle Over Net Neutrality

As the FCC considers how to regulate Internet providers, the telecom industry’s stealth campaign for hearts and minds encompasses everything from art installations to LOLcats.


October 16 • 12:00 PM

How Many Ads Is Too Many Ads?

The conundrum of online video advertising.


October 16 • 11:00 AM

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.


October 16 • 10:00 AM

The False Promises of Higher Education

Danielle Henderson spent six years and $60,000 on college and beyond. The effects of that education? Not as advertised.


Follow us


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.

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.

Advice for Emergency Alert Systems: Don’t Cry Wolf

A survey finds college students don't always take alerts seriously.

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.