t.’s review of Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century
Chronicling Migration in the 21st Century Through One Family’s Journey
Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century [Paperback]
Exodus is an important book and one I have been waiting to read for many years. It is about immigration from poor countries to rich ones, but focuses more than usual on the interests of those left behind. When poor nations lose their best-educated and most ambitious people to Europe or America, common sense suggests their development will be held back. The stock of such people in the West grew from 20m in to 60m in Get The International Pack for free for your first 30 days for unlimited Smartphone and Tablet access.
Make sense of a disrupted world. Report a mispronounced word. This book opens with a surprise. Paul Collier, professor of economics and public policy at Oxford, describes a framed picture on his desk of Karl Hellenschmidt, a penniless German immigrant to Britain in the early 20th century. He would go on to change his name to Charles Collier — and a family was absorbed into mainstream society. The surprise is not that Prof Collier descends from immigrant stock, but that he opens this academic study with a personal anecdote. The debate was split between the extremes of those who viewed migration as a threat and those who believed that to question it was tantamount to racism.
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T he migration of poor people to rich countries is a phenomenon overloaded with toxic associations, a subject politicised before it has been analysed. This is the starting point for Paul Collier 's lively exploration of perhaps the most contentious issue of our age, one that he sees as a natural extension of his influential previous books on the bottom billion people on our planet. The former World Bank economist, who now advises presidents and prime ministers, thinks people are focusing on the wrong question.
Migration, Paul Collier observes, "affects many groups, but only one has the practical power to control it: the indigenous population of host societies". So, he asks, "Should that group act in its self-interest, or balance the interests of all groups? A developmental economist, Collier has long been concerned with questions of poverty and justice, particularly in Africa. Truly to understand immigration, he argues, we have to unpack its impact on the three key groups - migrants themselves, the host community, and those left behind in the countries of origin. The real question, he suggests, is not whether immigration is good or bad, but how much of it brings benefits to each of these groups. Exodus is gracefully written and elegantly argued.
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