International Migration and Economic Development: Lessons from Low-Income Countries.

Author:Dameron, Kirk
Position:Book review

International Migration and Economic Development: Lessons from Low-Income Countries, by Robert E.B. Lucas. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar. 2005. Cloth, ISBN: 1845423836, $108.00. 360 pages.

The migration of humans from one region to another has occurred for millennia. The presence or lack of adequate resources, both within the region of origin and at the migration endpoint, has always been a significant factor in shaping the characteristics of such migration. In fact, there is bilateral causality: while development affects migration, migration also affects development. Movement of peoples to a new area, with inevitably concomitant transportation and communication links, returns trade goods, new ideas and often money or other resources back to the people who stayed behind.

In his recent book, Robert E.B. Lucas focuses on the latter effect, how migration influences economic development, taking an exhaustive look at economic theory and worldwide empirical evidence over the past thirty years. The broad list of economic policy priorities put forth by neoliberals in 1990, which became known as the 'Washington Consensus' and guided Washington-based economic development for much of the 1990's, did not include international migration. The purpose of Lucas' book, International Migration and Economic Development: Lessons from Low-Income Countries is twofold: first, to identify the important issues surrounding global migration; and second, to catalog what is known and not known about its affect on economic development. He effectively remedies the Washington Consensus oversight and puts migration squarely on the development map.

Lucas provides a cogent approach to studying such a vast literature by examining four case study areas: 1) migration to and within the European Union; 2) the migration of contract workers from South and Southeast Asia in the Persian Gulf; 3) the brain drain to North America; and 4) the migration transition occurring within the higher-income economies of East Asia. He refers occasionally to other migration regimes including those involving sub-Saharan Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand, and the migration of low income Mexican workers to the United States, as a means of comparison; nevertheless he limits his analysis primarily to the four designated case studies. These case studies provide interesting differences in several migration characteristics that are important variables to the study...

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