Living abroad is undoubtedly one of life’s most enjoyable, interesting, and eye-opening experiences. By stimulating economic growth and cultural exchange, it is also something that literally and figuratively enriches entire nations and the world as a whole. So, does placing restrictions on cross-border migration present a possible barrier to economic and human development?
My parents are originally from Hong Kong and emigrated to the U.K. during the 1960s, along with many thousands of other Hong Kong citizens. My mother arrived without knowing a word of English yet was welcomed warmly by the medical training school that she attended. She stayed in the U.K., working as a nurse for nearly 40 years, while others chose to return to Hong Kong, taking back with them the education, training and experience that they had acquired abroad.
Following in my parents’ international footsteps, for the past couple of years I have lived and worked in Spain. Aside from some logistical and social obstacles – such as finding a new house, making new friends, and learning a new language – the process of emigrating and starting a job there was pretty simple. For many people, however, emigrating abroad, permanently or temporarily, is much more difficult as many countries have strict immigration constraints against the inflow of citizens of certain nations.
The extent of this problem is illustrated by the results of a survey conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the French Agency for Development (AFD), who collected data from 146 countries between 2008 and 2010. They found that roughly 630 million adults, around 14 percent of all adults in the world, said that they would like to move to another country permanently if they had the opportunity. Findings from the Gallup World Poll also revealed that around 1.2 million people wanted to migrate temporarily for work purposes. However, only ten percent of the people who said they would like to migrate were actually planning to do so in the following year. Clearly, there is something preventing the other 90 percent from pursuing their dream of migrating. Read More »