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雅思阅读考试:The magic of diasporas

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雅思阅读考试:The magic of diasporas
雅思阅读:The magic of diasporas
Immigrant networks are a rare bright spark in the world economy.
Rich countries should welcome them
THIS is not a good time to be foreign. Anti- immigrant parties are gaining
ground in Europe. Britain has been fretting this week over lapses in its border
controls. In America Barack Obama has failed to deliver the immigration
reform he promised , and Republican presidential candidates would rather
electrify the border fence with Mexico than educate the children of illegal aliens.
America educates foreign scientists in its universities and then expels them, a
policy the mayor of New York calls
This illiberal turn in attitudes to migration is no surprise. It is the result of
cyclical economic gloom combined with a secular rise in pressure on rich
countries' borders. But governments now weighing up whether or not to try to
slam the door should consider another factor: the growing economic
importance of diasporas, and the contribution they can make to a country's
economic growth.
Old networks, new communications
Diaspora networks—of Huguenots, Scots, Jews and many others—have
always been a potent economic force, but the cheapness and ease of modern
travel has made them larger and more numerous than ever before. There are
now 215m first- generation migrants around the world: that's 3% of the world's
population. If they were a nation, it would be a little larger than Brazil. There
are more Chinese people living outside China than there are French people in
France. Some 22m Indians are scattered all over the globe. Small
concentrations of ethnic and linguistic groups have always been found in
surprising places—Lebanese in west Africa, Japanese in Brazil and Welsh in
Patagonia, for instance—but they have been joined by newer ones, such as
west Africans in southern China.
These networks of kinship and language make it easier to do business
across borders. They speed the flow of information: a Chinese trader in
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Indonesia who spots a gap in the market for cheap umbrellas will alert his
cousin in Shenzhen who knows someone who runs an umbrella factory.
Kinship ties foster trust, so they can seal the deal and get the umbrellas to
Jakarta before the rainy season ends. Trust matters, especially in emerging
markets where the rule of law is weak. So does a knowledge of the local
culture. That is why so much foreign direct investment in China still passes
through the Chinese diaspora. And modern communications make these
networks an even more powerful tool of business.
Diasporas also help spread ideas. Many of the emerging world's brightest
minds are educated at Western universities. An increasing number go home,
taking with them both knowledge and contacts. Indian computer scientists in
Bangalore bounce ideas constantly off their Indian friends in Silicon Valley.
China's technology industry is dominated by
lived abroad and returned).
Diasporas spread money, too. Migrants into rich countries not only send
cash to their families; they also help companies in their host country operate in
their home country. A Harvard Business School study shows that American
companies that employ lots of ethnic Chinese people find it much easier to set
up in China without a joint venture with a local firm.
Such arguments are unlikely to make much headway against hostility
towards immigrants in rich countries. Fury against foreigners is usually based
on two (mutually incompatible) notions: that because so many migrants claim
welfare they are a drain on the public purse; and that because they are
prepared to work harder for less pay they will depress the wages of those at
the bottom of the pile.
The first is usually not true (in Britain, for instance, immigrants claim
benefits less than indigenous people do), and the second is hard to establish
either way. Some studies do indeed suggest that competition from unskilled
immigrants depresses the wages of unskilled locals. But others find this effect
to be small or non- existent.
Nor is it possible to establish the impact of migration on overall growth.
The sums are simply too difficult. Yet there are good reasons for believing that
it is likely to be positive. Migrants tend to be hard-working and innovative. That
spurs productivity and company formation. A recent study carried out by Duke
University showed that, while immigrants make up an eighth of America's
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population, they founded a quarter of the country's technology and engineering
firms. And, by linking the West with emerging markets, diasporas help rich
countries to plug into fast-growing economies.
Rich countries are thus likely to benefit from looser immigration policy; and
fears that poor countries will suffer as a result of a
The prospect of working abroad spurs more people to acquire valuable skills,
and not all subsequently emigrate. Skilled migrants send money home, and
they often return to set up new businesses. One study found that unless they
lose more than 20% of their university graduates, the brain drain makes poor
countries richer.
Indian takeaways
Government as well as business gains from the spread of ideas through
diasporas. Foreign-educated Indians, including the prime minister, Manmohan
Singh (Oxford and Cambridge) and his sidekick Montek Ahluwalia (Oxford),
played a big role in bringing economic reform to India in the early 1990s. Some
500,000 Chinese people have studied abroad and returned, mostly in the past
decade; they dominate the think-tanks that advise the government, and are
moving up the ranks of the Communist Party. Cheng Li of the Brookings
Institution, an American think-tank, predicts that they will be 15-17% of its
Central Committee next year, up from 6% in 2002. Few sea turtles call openly
for democracy. But they have seen how it works in practice, and they know
that many countries that practise it are richer, cleaner and more stable than
China.
As for the old world, its desire to close its borders is understandable but
dangerous. Migration brings youth to ageing countries, and allows ideas to
circulate in millions of mobile minds. That is good both for those who arrive
with suitcases and dreams and for those who should welcome them.

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