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Symposium 2012

Proposal - Designing Intelligent Labor Migration Policies

The Challenge

While the world economy continues to become more global, international labor mobility remains severely restricted for all but those with rare or high skills. Many people in developing countries would ...

While the world economy continues to become more global, international labor mobility remains severely restricted for all but those with rare or high skills. Many people in developing countries would like to emigrate legally to work abroad but they do not qualify for admission to destination countries. This is because policy-makers typically focus on the net national economic impact when considering reforms of their labor migration policies and they naturally respond to public opinion about that impact.

  1. Foster the (economic) integration of immigrants through e.g. language courses. This may help migrants to reap the full benefits of their move and alleviate the (perceived) negative effects of immigration for natives.
  2. Establish a clear pathway to citizenship. This can help in promoting the integration and acceptance of newcomers in society.
  3. Align immigration flows more readily to the economic needs of receiving countries. This could be done by a points-based immigration system or by admitting labor migrants whose skills are in short supply. Such policies will maximize the positive effect of immigration on public finances in the destination and may again help in creating political support for less restrictive migration policies.
  4. Create a Working Group to design a blueprint for a global balance sheet on migration that could be used as a “checks and balances” tool regarding the international costs and benefits of migration. Governmental and non-governmental actors could then use that balance sheet to analyze how globally beneficial national policies are and determine how to improve these.
  5. Better understand the skills of newcomers. This would have two benefits. First it would increase knowledge of the in-country workforce, allowing for better skills matching and labor market forecasting. Second it would increase knowledge of the behavior of migrants of various skills (how long do they stay, how successful are they in the labor market, etc). This knowledge could improve policymaker’s ability to make smart migration laws.
  6. Better understand spontaneous circularity of migration to be able to foster brain circulation without creating highly bureaucratic policies that “force” the return of temporary migrants and undermine trust in a policy’s ability to manage migration.
  7. Make a public case, in the form of a campaign, for magnifying the benefits of migration and reducing the costs thereof through more globally connected and coherent labor migration policies.
  8. Raise awareness of the triple win situation arising from immigration of workers in jobs where labor is scarce and the benefits for the development of poorer countries.
  9. Research also the effect of labor emigration and develop ways of easing negative consequences for origin countries.

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