06 November 2012

WDR 2013: Jobs (but no migration please)

I went to the UK launch of the WDR this afternoon at the shiny new ODI offices in London. The bottom line is similar to but less poetic than something the Nigerian Central Bank Governor said in Oxford a few months ago:
"If a politician tells you that they are going to create a job, throw them out of the window. Fix the roads, fix the power, fix the security, and the people will create their own jobs."
Or in the report's words "Labor policies matter less than assumed" (as an aside, Kathleen referred a few times to this page (38) as their "tweets" which jarred for some reason - but its a good summary of the arguments).

Stefan Dercon had a great line on the WDR as a valiant attempt to construct a coherent narrative from an incoherent literature. He also pointed out the lack of any political economy analysis. Which leads to the obvious criticism about migration.

I thought I'd wait until I'd actually read the thing before commenting, but yeah, its pretty weak. Here is the WDR explaining "Global patterns of migration":
The decline of transportation costs, the growth of Persian Gulf economies following surges in oil prices, and the entry into world markets of developing countries with large populations have all stimulated a surge of migrant workers worldwide. 
Differences in expected earnings between the country of origin and the country of destination are an important reason for people to migrate. Earnings gains, however, are offset to varying degrees by the direct costs of migration (such as transportation fees and intermediation services) as well as by indirect costs associated with the difficulties of adapting to a different culture and society and leaving family and friends behind. These costs also help explain aggregate migration flows.
As well as those "costs" there's also the whole global apartheid thing, in which a person's right to choose where to live and work is determined by the country of their birth and not by their talents or aspirations. There are 700 million people who would like to permanently move to another country - including over 38% of the population in every sub-Saharan African country surveyed (the WDR does cite the Gallup World Poll, just not this particular finding).

Gabriel Demombynes notes that the 2009 WDR (Economic geography) was much stronger on migration. As from a quick glance was the 1995 WDR (Workers in an integrating world). Perhaps the problem is just fatigue?

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