Episode 35: Migration and Development

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Owen Barder
Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development, and an Associate of the Institute for Government. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen was a London 2012 Gamesmaker.

In this episode, Owen talks to fellow CGD Senior Fellow Michael Clemens about the relationship between migration and development. In the first section Michael talks about the impact of migration on migrants themselves, and how micro-data has been used to expose a significant inequality of opportunity based on location, explaining more about a person’s income than everything else put together. Michael discusses the role of movement of people in within the development process, highlighting the limitations of using place as the main indicator of poverty reduction, given the wider global system and international labour market in which migrants participate. In the second part Michael responds to various criticisms of migration from a receiving country perspective, focusing on the costs and benefits of the economic, communal and cultural effects of migration, and the need for a managed transition to minimise costs and maximise benefits. In the third part  Michael talks about the impact of migration from the perspective of the migrants’ countries of origin. Michael emphasises that while the reasons behind migration may be harmful, migration itself is not, and argues that fostering educational flexibility works better to maximise benefits from migration, than preventing educated migrants from leaving their countries. The final part of the episode Michael explains incorporating migration into development policy can be politically viable, citing his part in a change to US migration policy to allow Haitians to move to America, and offers his thoughts on why policy must and will adapt to foster inevitable global movement rather than inhibit it.


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Episode 35: Migration and Development