World Bank's Kim on Migration's Economic Case

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 10/28/2015 12:07:00 AM
The World Bank president prescribes migration to cure a slowing world economy.
There's some good commentary from World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on how migration can help support faltering global economic growth. The notions are fairly simple and understood economically: Legions of elderly in the developed world are not productive and pose a strain on national resources insofar as they have sizable guaranteed pension and health care benefits. Meanwhile, as recent headlines from Europe demonstrate, there are also vast numbers of migrants from poor countries eager to work in rich countries given the opportunity. Not only can they provide the economic output necessary to help support growing old age populations in the developed world, but they also provide demand for consumer goods and other things.

Kim cites the example of OECD member Turkey as a net beneficiary of migration
Today, on average, a refu­gee can expect to remain a refu­gee for 17 years. So we need to move beyond humanitarian assistance to development solutions. If host countries can create a path for refugees to participate in their economies — as Turkey is doing — everybody benefits. These benefits are even greater when rich countries, especially those with declining populations, take in refugees. Most of the evidence suggests that refugees, like economic migrants in general, work hard and contribute more in taxes than they consume in social services.
That said, there remain societal differences--he gives the example of his native South Korea--that restrain the acceptability of migration:
I was recently in South Korea, where I raised the issue of accepting immigrants, whether they are from neighboring Asian countries or anywhere else. I asked whether a person from Indonesia, or Tanzania or Syria, could ever become a “hyphenated Korean,” as I’ve become a Korean-American . The answers I received made it clear that, despite the great benefits that Koreans have derived from being able to move to all corners of the earth, “Syrian-Koreans” probably will not be accepted as full members of Korean society anytime soon.
Ultimately, though, necessity will likely win out in the migration debate:
But South Korea, like many wealthier countries, has an aging population, and it needs an influx of younger workers to continue on its remarkable path of economic growth. The great challenge for many advanced economies is to manage such changes and welcome migrants and refugees with a plan to help them settle and perhaps eventually become citizens, just as I became a citizen of the United States at the age of 12.

This is a smart strategy, especially during these times of low global economic growth. Countries that welcome refugees, and help other countries to productively host them, will be doing the right thing — both for our fellow human beings who are suffering and for the global economy.
Would-be Trump voters and assorted bigots aside, who's to argue with such logic? If only things were so simple in cultural terms as they were in economic ones, though.