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Let Their People Come: Breaking the Gridlock on Global Labor Mobility

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1933286105
ISBN-10: 1933286105
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Editorial Reviews


"This book makes the case for unskilled migration in a more original, challenging, and entertaining way than any other I have seen. It will influence researchers through its clever use of analysis, policymakers through its powerful rhetoric and vision, and the general public because it is simply a very good read." —L. Alan Winters, Development Research Group, The World Bank

"Immigration will be a key issue of the 21st century. [Pritchett's book] is a provocative contribution in an area where provocation is needed." —Mary Robinson, Ethical Globalization Initiative

"Pritchett gives us the most lucid and forward-looking account of the one aspect of 21st century globalization that politicians still refuse to recognize and manage properly: labor migration. If you care about the state of the world in the future, you will find this book irresistible and useful reading." —Ernesto Zedillo, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and former President of Mexico

About the Author

Lant Pritchett is a nonresident fellow at the Center for Global Development and is a lead socioeconomist with the World Bank, based in New Delhi, India. From 2000 to 2004 he was lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at H


Product Details

  • Paperback: 151 pages
  • Publisher: Center for Global Development (September 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933286105
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933286105
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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What a great effort by Lant Pritchett. "Let Their People Come" deconstructs the very thorny issue of immigration. He explains the both the pressures for increased "labor mobility", his name for migration, and the "immovable ideas" against it from the developed world and he does so with entertaining and insight-filled writing. He makes a very good case for allowing more unskilled labor mobility. That more mobility would be the best way to improve the live of those who live in the less developed countries at the lowest cost to the residents of wealthy countries. I am a fairly avid reader of books about immigration and found his book to be filled with new information and insights about the opportunities and obstacles related to the topic of immigration.
Pritchett concludes that the only politically viable way to increase labor mobility is to implement new guest worker programs. It is easy to disagree with his conclusions, as we do at Radical Immigration, but his presentation of the realities of the immigration debate and the politics of the debate make this a must read for anyone interested in understanding this complex issue.
In his explanation of the "immovable ideas" resisting increased labor mobility he immediately confront the real cause of the resistance. "The ultimate reason that there is not massively more mobility of labor across national borders ... is that the citizens of rich countries do not want it." He then construct the framework of an international guest worker program that would help, in his opinion, overcome this objection.
This is very good, very readable, book that takes an honest look at a difficult subject and proposes a solution.
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Format: Paperback
This book is primarily written for economists and academics in related fields, but most of it can be understood by an average person.
I was a little hesitant to read this book because I suspected it would do little more than reinforce my existing beliefs. There were certainly parts of the book that I would have been better off skipping for that reason.
But one important effect of the book was to convince me that the effects on the poor of migration to wealthier countries is so large compared to things like "foreign aid" and free trade that anyone trying to help the poor by influencing government policies shouldn't spend any time thinking about how to improve "foreign aid" or trade barriers.
I've long been wondering how to respond to remarks such as Jimmy Carter's 'We are the stingiest nation of all' based the U.S.'s low "foreign aid" to GDP ratio. Pointing out that "foreign aid" is mostly wasted or even harmful requires too much analysis of lots of not-too-strong evidence. Pritchett shows that the wealth affects of allowing the poor to work in rich countries should dominate any measure of how those rich countries treat the poor. By that measure, adjusting for country size, the U.S. ranks better than countries in the EU, but is embarrassingly callous compared to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Jordan.
The book addresses both moral and selfish arguments for restricting immigration. It treats the selfish arguments (even those based on myths) as problems that can't be overcome, but which can be reduced via compromises. These pragmatic parts of the book are too ordinary to be worth much.
The sections about moral arguments are more powerful.
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By Jeremy Foote on September 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a very compelling book from Mr. Pritchett. While he makes plenty of great economic arguments for freer migration policies, the one that has remained with me is the moral argument.

He points out our "Moral Perfectionism based on Proximity", and how ridiculous it is to believe that we should have different moral standards of behavior toward others based on where they were born.

A great book - I'm not an economist, and found it very accessible, while still full of information and great argument.
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