Reverse Psychology in Migration Policy

Reverse psychology is frequently applied by parents: If you want your kids to do something (like washing the dishes or mowing the lawn), tell them they can’t. That is often much more effective than begging or threatening them to do it.



Maybe that is the explanation why European countries are keeping such a strict immigration policy, despite the fact that they are badly in need of immigrant workers if they want to uphold or increase their living standards during the coming decades (1).

It would be rather embarrassing if they had to beg developing countries to send some migrants to collect the garbage, clean the houses, and take care of the old and the sick. Better to insist for some years that they cannot come, thereby creating some mysterious attraction, and then finally give in and let them come and do all the dirty work, and in addition be perceived as granting a big favor to developing countries.

But that degree of sophisticated collective thinking may be unrealistic to expect, even from well-educated societies. More likely it is just ignorance and plain racism that causes them to have such self-defeating immigration laws.

Have any ideas to improve immigration trends? Leave a reply below.

(*) Director, Institute for Advanced Development Studies, La Paz, Bolivia. The author happily receives comments at the following e-mail:

(1) For example, Kofi Annan: Why Europe Needs and Immigration Strategy


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