Michael Clemens and Justin Sandefur review Paul Collier’s new book

Sometimes even the output of independent intellectuals cannot escape the spirit of the times. It appears that Paul Collier’s new book embodies this challenge by reflecting Europe’s current struggles with immigration. I haven’t read the book, and still might read it, but the review by Clemens and Sandefur (both of CGD) in Foreign Affairs does not paint the picture of an objective academic argument on the merits/demerits of immigration. Here’s an excerpt: 

Paul Collier, has just published an extended apologia for the tight strictures on immigration [that led to this raid], arguing for a global system of coercive quotas on people moving from poorer countries to richer ones. Such quotas, he writes in Exodus, would serve the “enlightened self-interest” of immigrants’ host countries and constitute an act of “compassion” for immigrants and their countries of origin. Collier argues that at a certain point, immigration begins to harm both host and origin countries, that many countries are near or past that point, and that even in countries that have so far remained unharmed, “preventative policies are greatly superior to reactive ones.”

It is refreshing to see the grand case against immigration served up by someone of Collier’s intelligence and credentials. But although Collier styles his book as a balanced review of the research literature, it is in fact a one-sided polemic that stands mostly outside academic research — by Collier or anyone else. Far from advancing a convincing case for a moderate middle path, the book offers an egregious collection of empirical and logical errors about the sociological and economic consequences of immigration. And they lead Collier to propose policies that would greatly harm, not help, the millions of people seeking to escape their homelands in search of a better life.

…… Collier has written a text mortally wounded by incoherence, error, and overconfident leaps to baseless conclusions.

The whole review is definitely worth reading. It provides great analysis, albeit in abbreviated form, of some of the benefits of immigration, both for immigrants and natives (or earlier immigrants as might sometimes be the case). 

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One thought on “Michael Clemens and Justin Sandefur review Paul Collier’s new book

  1. Dang, they massacred that book! And I liked it. As someone who is a global nomad, I am tired of hearing these arguments of “they still our jobs and sully our culture.” Can’t wait to share the Foreign Policy article. I didn’t even know that they could write such good content. Just goes to show even experts aren’t necessarily experts.

    Like

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