A Labor Mobility Agenda for Development

28 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2010

See all articles by Michael A. Clemens

Michael A. Clemens

Center for Global Development; IZA-Institute for the Study of Labor

Date Written: January 25, 2010


Rich countries have made efforts for half a century to help people in poor countries catch up to rich-country standards of living. Those efforts have included giving foreign aid, encouraging overseas investment, dismantling trade barriers, and spreading ideas and institutions. That is, their international development policy has been to encourage the globalization of almost all factors of production except labor. So far, this policy has failed to cause the living standards of most people in most developing countries to converge with living standards in rich countries. But the globalization of labor - greater mobility for workers across borders - quickly and massively raises migrants’ living standards toward those of rich countries. This paper argues that every rich country should consider its immigration policy to be part of its international development policy, and vice versa. A development policy that includes migration will be more effective; an immigration policy that includes development will better serve rich countries’ ideals and interests. The paper also gives a non-technical review of new research on several common objections to unifying development policy and migration policy. One concrete way forward is for rich countries to greatly open up legal pathways for temporary labor movement.

Keywords: international development, immigration policy, labor, migration

Suggested Citation

Clemens, Michael Andrew, A Labor Mobility Agenda for Development (January 25, 2010). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 201. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1543396 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1543396

Michael Andrew Clemens (Contact Author)

Center for Global Development ( email )

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Washington, DC 20036
United States

IZA-Institute for the Study of Labor ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/profile?key=4270

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