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A century ago, migrants often crossed an ocean and never saw their homelands again. Today, they call—or Skype—home the moment their flight has landed, and that’s just the beginning. Thanks to cheap travel and easy communication, immigrants everywhere stay in intimate contact with their native countries, creating powerful cross-border networks. In Borderless Economics, Robert Guest, The Economist’s global business editor, travels through dozens of countries and 44 American states, observing how these networks create wealth, spread ideas, and foster innovation. Covering phenomena such as how young Chinese studying in the West are infecting China with democratic ideals, to why the so-called “brain drain”—the flow of educated migrants from poor countries to rich ones—actually reduces global poverty, this is a fascinating look at how migration makes the world wealthier and happier.
A wide-ranging survey of the global impact of the 215 million people who live outside their countries of origin.
Economist global business editor Guest (The Shackled Continent: Power, Corruption, and African Lives,2004) contends that the three percent (and growing) part of the world's population that is migrating is disproportionately contributing to the creation of international wealth, both in the sense of financial assets and the development of new technological and economic capabilities. Of the total number, China contributes about 60 million and India 25 million. In the United States, immigrants make up about eight percent of the total population but formed 25 percent of the engineering and technological startups launched between 1995 and 2005. Guest shows how technological pioneers like Jack Ma, the founder of China's Internet search company Alibaba, and Pramod Bhasin of the Indian health-service provider Genpact, are not only making a lot of money for themselves but transforming their countries and the global economy. The author also highlights the work of Nandan Nilekani, a billionaire software engineer who created a universal ID system for India using biometric identifiers to help organize the government's health and labor programs. Guest is a firm believer in the transformative power of digital technology. Beyond the work of individuals, he also shows that the total volume of remittances sent home by overseas workers grew tenfold between 1990 and 2009; at $316 billion, it now makes up one of the largest sources of global liquidity. Guest locates the U.S. as the center of the activity he profiles, and he emphasizes the mutually beneficial natures of the inflow of immigrants and their interaction with the U.S. economy and culture. The author hopes that the U.S. government will reform its immigration system to maintain the inflow, and he cites one claim that worldwide freedom of movement would produce a $40 trillion gain.
An informative, engaging survey of the beneficial consequences of globalization.
Diaspora Economics: Why Tribalism Fosters Prosperity Diaspora Politics: How Sea Turtles Will Turn China Democratic Networks of Innovation: How Indian Exiles Will Save Medicare Networks of Trust: How the Brain Drain Reduces Global Poverty Networks of Hatred: Breeding Jihad and Genocide The Hub Nation: Why America Will Remain Number One