There was an interesting programme on BBC Radio 4 on Monday night, Analysis, which looked at the following question:
The government is committed to protecting the aid budget. Frances Cairncross asks whether a more relaxed policy on economic migration might help the developing world more.
I was interviewed for the programme, and there were three points I wanted to make, which I didn’t entirely get across. So here they are:
a. It is too narrow to think of the benefits of migration mainly in terms of remittances. The benefits are much broader than that. Michael Clemens used an excellent analogy in a CGD podcast: it is as if we were determined to talk about the impact of the increase in women’s participation in the workforce by the money that they contribute to the housekeeping.
b. We should think about the impact of migration more in terms of the impact on people and less in terms of the impact on countries. In particular, there is a substantial benefit to the migrants themselves which should be at the front of our minds. (I sort of managed to make this point in the clip they used of me in the programme); and
c. there is not a trade-off between providing aid and supporting people from developing countries who want to live and work abroad: we can do both.