Monday, November 30, 2009

Three Atlantic Canadian articles

Population increase (or decrease) is entirely determined by a combination of natural increase (or decrease) and either minus or plus migration. In Atlantic Canada, the trends are definitely pointing towards a decrease.

  • In the Globe and Mail, Jeffrey Simpson writes ("Newfoundlanders return, but the outports are still in peril") about how in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, an oil-driven economic boom and remittances haven't reversed a tendency towards population decrease, especially in the outports--isolated mid-sized fishing communities--scattered liberally on the coastline outside of the Avalon Peninsula area that includes the capital.

  • At least rhetorically, Newfoundland governments have always been for keeping the rural part of the province alive and thriving. And there have been some spotty successes.

    Some of that money earned from Alberta has returned to outports to rebuild or spruce up homes. People from “away” have found these communities delightful and purchased second homes there. Sometimes, although not often, Newfoundlanders have returned to the outports to retire, although most of them prefer to be nearer large medical complexes. And, of course, tourism has shown sprightly growth in recent years, giving an economic boost to some places.

    The overall numbers, however, do not lie. Half the population now lives in the Avalon peninsula, home to thriving St. John's. The strong economy in and around the provincial capital explains why the recession has struck Newfoundland somewhat less heavily than other parts of Canada. The housing market in and around St. John's is among the hottest in Canada. In a province with an 18-per-cent unemployment rate, it's often hard to find skilled workers to build or renovate houses, some of that labour having gone to Western Canada.

    A double migration has hit rural Newfoundland: to St. John's and to other parts of Canada.

  • Meanwhile, the attempts by Prince Edward Island to attract permanent immigrants that I blogged about earlier seem, according to the CBC ("Majority of immigrants to P.E.I. leave: report"), to be pretty futile. Bad management of the programs involved don't help.

  • The Provincial Nominee Program has been a revolving door for the majority of immigrant families who participate, according to a report released Wednesday by the University of Prince Edward Island.

    The program, commonly known as PNP, matched foreign investors who wanted to immigrate to Canada with P.E.I. companies they could invest in. In return for their investment, applicants would have their immigration application expedited.

    The study, conducted with help from the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers, looked at 44 immigrant families who arrived in the province through the PNP in the last four months of 2006.

    When the report's authors checked back 2½ years later, they found all but 11 of the families had left a retention rate of 25 per cent.

    Shine-Ji Youn Chung, a co-author of the study and an international student at UPEI, said she understands the frustration felt by many immigrants who came to the province through the PNP.

    "They're feeling like, 'Okay, I am not part of this community, we are not welcome, even though we are here.'

  • Finally, MacLean's blogger and journalist Aaron Wherry reports on how a Conservative member of the Canadian parliament was backtracking on his condemnation of unemployed Nova Scotians for their refusal to do farm work.

    Gerald Keddy, yesterday. If anyone ever stops Nova Scotia farmers from hiring migrant labourers to harvest their crops, they would destroy a lot of businesses because unemployed Nova Scotians don’t want those jobs, says Gerald Keddy, the Conservative MP for South Shore-St. Margarets. ”Nova Scotians won’t do it — all those no-good bastards sitting on the sidewalk in Halifax that can’t get work,” Mr. Keddy said Monday.

    Gerald Keddy, today. Conservative MP Gerald Keddy is apologizing for referring to some unemployed Haligonians as “no-good bastards.” Keddy, MP for the Nova Scotia riding of South Shore-St. Margaret’s, issued a statement Tuesday saying he was sorry for the “insensitive comments.” ”In no way did I mean to offend those who have lost their job due to the global recession, nor did I mean to suggest that anyone who is unemployed is not actively looking for employment,” he said.

    In truth, farm work is one of those 3-D jobs--dirty, difficult, and dangerous--that has always attracted relatively badly off people, especi8ally migrants who aren't included in the social contract. Just because a region has high overall unemployment, as commenters note, doesn't mean that uts labour market wouldn't be segmented.

  • Friday, November 27, 2009

    Your thoughts on a paper, please?

    A few days ago, Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen linked to a recent paper by UC Davis researcher Giovanni Peri, "The Effect of Immigration on Productivity: Evidence from US States". This paper is the latest entry into the debate on whether or not immigration depresses wages.

    Below is the abstract.

    Using the large variation in the inflow of immigrants across US states we analyze the impact of immigration on state employment, average hours worked, physical capital accumulation and, most importantly, total factor productivity and its skill bias. We use the location of a state relative to the Mexican border and to the main ports of entry, as well as the existence of communities of immigrants before 1960, as instruments.

    We find no evidence that immigrants crowded-out employment and hours worked by natives. At the same time we find robust evidence that they increased total factor productivity, on the one hand, while they decreased capital intensity and the skill-bias of production technologies, on the other. These results are robust to controlling for several other determinants of productivity that may vary with geography such as R&D spending, computer adoption, international competition in the form of exports and sector composition. Our results suggest that immigrants promoted efficient task specialization, thus increasing TFP and, at the same time, promoted the adoption of unskilled-biased technology as the theory of directed technologial change would predict. Combining these effects, an increase in employment in a US state of 1% due to immigrants produced an increase in income per worker of 0.5% in that state.

    Below is the conclusion, which as conclusions ought to do restates things nicely.

    We present three main findings, two of which are quite new in this literature. First, we confirm that immigrants do not crowd-out employment of (or hours worked by) natives but simply add to total employment. Second, we find that they increase total factor productivity significantly and, third, that such efficiency gains are unskilled-biased—larger, that is, for less educated workers. We check that these effects are robust to including several control variables (such as R&D spending, technological adoption, sector composition or openness to international trade) and that they are not explained by productivity convergence across states or driven only by a few states or particular decades. We conjecture that at least part of the positive productivity effects are due to an efficient specialization of immigrants and natives in manual-intensive and communication-intensive tasks, respectively (in which each group has a comparative advantage), resulting in an overall efficiency gain. Preliminary empirical evidence supports this claim. In conclusion, we also check that these findings are in line with the analysis of the wage effect of immigrants on less educated natives, which is close to 0, and on highly educated natives, which is positive.

    Thoughts? It holds together well enough for me, but I'd like to stay away from the last commenter's unthinking cheeriness. Does the paper make sense to you? Is its thesis unique to the United States?

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    Two South Korea links

    I've come across two New York Times articles which explores interesting elements of Korean identity as it relates to migration.

    First, Ron Nixon examines the identity issues surrounding adopted South Koreans in the United States as part of a wider phenomenon of transracial adoption and its issues: a half-million children have been adopted in the United States from outside that country. South Korea was one of the more important senders of these migrants.

    [O]of the largest studies of transracial adoptions, which is to be released on Monday, [. . .] which focuses on the first generation of children adopted from South Korea, found that 78 percent of those who responded had considered themselves to be white or had wanted to be white when they were children. Sixty percent indicated their racial identity had become important by the time they were in middle school, and, as adults, nearly 61 percent said they had traveled to Korea both to learn more about the culture and to find their birth parents.

    Like Ms. Young, most Korean adoptees were raised in predominantly white neighborhoods and saw few, if any, people who looked like them. The report also found that the children were teased and experienced racial discrimination, often from teachers. And only a minority of the respondents said they felt welcomed by members of their own ethnic group.

    As a result, many of them have had trouble coming to terms with their racial and ethnic identities.

    The report was issued by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a nonprofit adoption research and policy group based in New York. Since 1953, parents in the United States have adopted more than a half-million children from other countries, the vast majority of them from orphanages in Asia, South America and, most recently, Africa. Yet the impact of such adoptions on identity has been only sporadically studied. The authors of the Donaldson Adoption Institute study said they hoped their work would guide policymakers, parents and adoption agencies in helping the current generation of children adopted from Asian countries to form healthy identities.

    “So much of the research on transracial adoption has been done from the perspective of adoptive parents or adolescent children,” said Adam Pertman, executive director of the institute. “We wanted to be able to draw on the knowledge and life experience of a group of individuals who can provide insight into what we need to do better.”

    The study recommends several changes in adoption practices that the institute said are important, including better support for adoptive parents and recognition that adoption grows in significance for their children from young adulthood on, and throughout adulthood.

    South Korea was the first country from which Americans adopted in significant numbers. From 1953 to 2007, an estimated 160,000 South Korean children were adopted by people from other countries, most of them in the United States. They make up the largest group of transracial adoptees in the United States and, by some estimates, are 10 percent of the nation’s Korean population.

    The report says that significant changes have occurred since the first generation of adopted children were brought to the United States, a time when parents were told to assimilate the children into their families without regard for their native culture.

    Yet even adoptees who are exposed to their culture and have parents who discuss issues of race and discrimination say they found it difficult growing up.

    Heidi Weitzman, who was adopted from Korea when she was 7 months old and who grew up in ethnically mixed neighborhoods in St. Paul, said her parents were in touch with other parents with Korean children and even offered to send her to a “culture camp” where she could learn about her heritage.

    But I hated it,” said Ms. Weitzman, a mental health therapist in St. Paul. “I didn’t want to do anything that made me stand out as being Korean. Being surrounded by people who were blonds and brunets, I just thought that I was white.” It was not until she moved to New York after college that she began to become comfortable with being Korean.

    “I was 21 before I could look in the mirror and not be surprised by what I saw staring back at me,” she said. “The process of discovering who I am has been a long process, and I’m still on it.”

    In South Korea proper, in the meantime, Choe Sang-Hun reports on the difficulties surrounding South Korea's transition to a multicultural and multiracial environment.

    On the evening of July 10, Bonogit Hussain, a 29-year-old Indian man, and Hahn Ji-seon, a female Korean friend, were riding a bus near Seoul when a man in the back began hurling racial and sexist slurs at them.

    What was different this time, however, was that, once it was reported in the South Korean media, prosecutors sprang into action, charging the man they have identified only as a 31-year-old Mr. Park with contempt, the first time such charges had been applied to an alleged racist offense. Spurred by the case, which is pending in court, rival political parties in Parliament have begun drafting legislation that for the first time would provide a detailed definition of discrimination by race and ethnicity and impose criminal penalties.

    For Mr. Hussain, subtle discrimination has been part of daily life for the two and half years he has lived here as a student and then research professor at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul. He says that, even in crowded subways, people tend not sit next to him. In June, he said, he fell asleep on a bus and when it reached the terminal, the driver woke him up by poking him in the thigh with his foot, an extremely offensive gesture in South Korea.

    “Things got worse for me this time, because I was with a Korean woman,” Mr. Hussain said in an interview. “Whenever I’ve walked with Ms. Hahn or other Korean women, most of the time I felt hostilities, especially from middle-aged men.”

    South Korea, a country where until recently people were taught to take pride in their nation’s “ethnic homogeneity” and where the words “skin color” and “peach” are synonymous, is struggling to embrace a new reality. In just the past seven years, the number of foreign residents has doubled, to 1.2 million, even as the country’s population of 48.7 million is expected to drop sharply in coming decades because of its low birth rate.

    Many of the foreigners come here to toil at sea or on farms or in factories, providing cheap labor in jobs shunned by South Koreans. Southeast Asian women marry rural farmers who cannot find South Korean brides. People from English-speaking countries find jobs teaching English in a society obsessed with learning the language from native speakers.

    For most South Koreans, globalization has largely meant increasing exports or going abroad to study. But now that it is also bringing an influx of foreigners into a society where 42 percent of respondents in a 2008 survey said they had never once spoken with a foreigner, South Koreans are learning to adjust — often uncomfortably.

    Go, read.

    Chain migration to Libya?

    The Global Detention Project's description of Libya's system of apprehending, detaining, and deporting illegal immigrants is pretty much common knowledge. Immigrants in Libya generally have it hard, with the million-odd sub-Saharan Africans attracted to this middle-income country during Qadhafi's strongly pan-African phase being confined to the margins of Libyan life, trapped amidst poverty and a negative stigma that has been known to extend to violence. Immigrants attempting to use Libya as a transit country en route to Libya and other points in Europe can find it much worse still, with the people who can't bribe their way past corrupt authorities finding themselves thrown into decidedly sub-standard detention facilities where they're mistreated badly--beatings are apparently common, for instance--before being deported, with luck actually being flown back to their homeland instead of being dumped in the desert and told to go "that way." Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler, is a prominent collaborator with this regime, turning ships with migrants back to Libya without considering the migrants' appeals for asylum and providing certain amounts of aid.

    Various news sources have suggested that Eritreans and Somalis are disproportionately well-represented among the migrants using Libya as a transit country to Italy. Eritrea, Somalia, and Libya, it should be noted, are the three territories that formed the core of the Italian colonial empire. It makes sense that Eritreans fleeing their country's totalitarianism and Somalis fleeing their country's anarchy would look to Italy. Geography certain plays a role, but I wonderif the choice of Libya as a transit country has anything to do with their countries' shared history with Libya. Are there human connections surviving from the Italian era? I wonder.


    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    A Polynesian passport?

    The ever worth reading monthly magazine Monocle had a brief item that caught my attention. Unfortunately, the only mention I can find of it is in this brief article from Radio New Zealand.

    Creating passports for Pacific people travelling within the region is one of the aims of a group of Pacific leaders meeting in Auckland to discuss a single Government for the Polynesian Triangle.

    This is a primary goal of the about 60 chiefs, or Ariki, and other leaders from Tahiti, Hawaii, Rarotonga, Tonga and Fiji who are meeting with their New Zealand counterparts.

    The gathering at Whaiora Marae in Auckland is looking at how to unite Pacific people in a single indigenous Polynesian government.

    A spokesperson at the event, Matt Seymor says current governance, like the issuing of passports, has taken away the natural cultural ties of Pacific people in the region.

    “Settler’s law and colonialism have taken away their whakapapa. As like in New Zealand their right to come down on to Maui’s fish. As you have Samoans and Tongans who have to go through passport clearance to enter into New Zealand.”

    Where can I begin?

    I've blogged here before about the migration issues facing Tonga in specific and Polynesia in general, and about migration in relation to the two Samoas, and about the subject over at my blog. Partly it's a matter of migration issues in relation to islands being quite personally familiar, partly it's an issue of the sheer income gaps between sending and receiving countries, partly it's a matter of how migration regimes control matters in a Polynesia that's culturally fairly homogeneous.

    Manuhuia Barcham at New Zealand's Massey University has argued in the paper "Rethinking Polynesian mobility: A new Polynesian triangle?" that migration from poor to rich countries in Polynesia (here, New Zealand, Hawai'i, and French Polynesia and perhaps Melanesian New Caledonia as well) is conditioned by patterns of migration throughout the Polynesian cultural zone as by current political ties, never mind the ways in which some Polynesian areas are tied to larger non-Polynesian ones (New Zealand to Australia, Hawai'i to the mainland United States.

    Polynesian countries which retained strong links with their colonial administrators or rulers received considerable economic support from the metropoles and have had access to their labour markets. Thus American Samoans have had easy access to the mainland United States, and residents of Niue, the Cook Islands and Tokelau, Islands although governing themselves in ‘free association’ with New Zealand, can access New Zealand passports and thus the New Zealand and Australian labour markets. Samoans enjoy a special relationship with New Zealand as a former colonial power which gives them some preferential treatment migrating there and residents of French Polynesia have the rights of French citizens. The British have, in contrast, restricted access for their former colonial subjects to Britain almost

    While writers such as Crocombe (1994: 311-12) acknowledge the influence of these colonial ties on movement of Polynesian peoples, they generally fail to consider the free right of access Hawai’ians have to the continental USA and that of New Zealand Māori to Australia.

    After the Second World War, Barcham argues, the need for labour in the richer Polynesian territories recreated a migration culture on the islands, and eventually led to a second wave of Polynesian migration to larger labour markets (i.e. Australia and the mainland United States), later economic troubles discouraging migration while encouraging specific causes (the Mormonism which led to Tongan settlement in Utah, say). This transnationalism is dynamic, linking the different regions of Polynesia in a diasporic context that extends even beyond Polynesia proper to continental landmasses on either side of the Pacific.

    In this context, a pan-Polynesian passport would be incredibly useful, especially if New Zealand was included on account of its Maori heritage: Not only would New Zealand be a desirable target, but since 1973 the integration on Australia and New Zealander labour markets has made Australia basically just another option for ambitious New Zealanders.

    This passport is hugely unlikely to happen, to be sure. Would the island-states of independent Polynesian states be willing to give up so much sovereignty, especially given the relative lack of puissance of the Pacific Islands Forum? Would New Zealand be willing to join in? Would Australia tolerate New Zealand's participation in that zone? How would the United States react? Et cetera. Still, it's an interesting idea.

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    On soldiering and migration

    Yesterday was Remembrance Day in Canada, the two minutes of silence starting on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month commemorating the 65 thousand war dead of the First World War. These dead, like Caanda's other war dead, as in other nations, play a major role in defining national identities and histories, creating create collective traumas and comemmorations as group rituals. But, as I noted on my blog yesterday, although these events are common to the nation as a whole, the casualties aren't so dispersed.

    The bumper sticker on Robin and Paulette Tedford's red Ford pickup truck is as direct as they come. "If you don't stand behind our troops," it reads beneath a Canadian flag, "feel free to stand in front of them." The message might seem jingoistic and surprising in peace-loving Canada, but the sticker is a hot item in this small central Nova Scotia town, and nobody here would think to question the Tedfords' right to display it.

    On Oct. 14, 2006, their youngest son, Sergeant Darcy Tedford, 32, was on patrol outside Kandahar when his light-armoured vehicle was ambushed by Taliban insurgents firing rocket-propelled grenades. He and Private Blake Williamson were killed. Born in Calgary but raised near Truro since the age of one, Sgt. Tedford was the third solider from the area to be killed in Afghanistan. Corporal Christopher Reid, 34, had died in August 2006 when his light-armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, and a month later, Warrant Officer Frank Mellish, 38, was killed in fierce fighting with the Taliban. Last December saw the combat death of a fourth Truro native, Corporal Thomas Hamilton, 26, who was born in Truro and raised in Upper Musquodoboit, about 45 kilometres away.

    For a town of just 12,000 people, the war in Afghanistan has taken an extraordinary toll. It should not, however, come as a surprise. A careful study of the list of the 133 Canadian soldiers who've lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2002 shows they are far more likely to have roots in a town such as Truro than in Toronto or Vancouver. Reflecting overall patterns of enlistment in the Canadian Forces, those killed hail disproportionately from Atlantic Canada and the Prairies. They are for the most part white males under 40 who come from small towns rather than major urban centres.

    [. . .]

    Truro bills itself as "the hub of Nova Scotia," but it is a hub that most people skirt around on the way to and from Halifax. The tourism kiosk at Halifax airport greets arrivals with pamphlets on attractions in every corner of Nova Scotia, but the attendant came up empty when asked for material on Truro. Even inside the hub, a motel postcard rack offered cards from Digby, Pictou and the Annapolis Valley but nothing from Truro. Statistics Canada reports that the town's median household income is well below the provincial average, and its population is homogenous. Just 5% of the population are immigrants, with few recent arrivals, and English is the mother tongue of 96% of residents. It is a place where a Chinese restaurant can call itself Hou's Takee Outee without raising eyebrows.

    It is also a place where military tradition runs deep. The names of 278 townsmen who fell in the two world wars, and now Afghanistan, are engraved on the downtown cenotaph. "The attitude of people here is they support the troops 100%," said Garry Higgins, president of the local Royal Canadian Legion branch. Remembrance Day ceremonies draw between 3,000 and 4,000 people, he said. Herb Peppard, an 89-year-old veteran of the Second World War, said the respect he receives from the townspeople reflects their appreciation of the military. "I think Nova Scotia is always represented well [in the Forces] compared to its population," he said. "We get very patriotic here."

    This disproportionate number of recruits has been commented on before.

    In 2005-06, 23 per cent of the Canadian Forces' recruits came from Atlantic Canada, according to a military spokesperson in Ottawa, while 26 per cent were from Quebec and 33 per cent were from Ontario. About 19 per cent came from the West.

    But Michel Desjardins, a petty officer at the recruiting detachment in Bathurst, N.B., estimates that the number for Atlantic Canada is even higher.

    "Eastern Canada, we do provide a lot of people for the Canadian Forces," Petty Officer Desjardins said. "I believe last time I looked, about a third of the Canadian Forces are from Atlantic Canada, and for a region of the country that only comprises something like 10 per cent of the Canadian population, it's a lot."

    7.2% of the Canadian population, to be precise. Further in this second source, one observer suggests that joining the military is just another form of out-migration.

    Jonathan Vance, Canada Research Chair in Conflict and Culture at the University of Western Ontario in London, agrees that it is a high proportion and suggests that military recruitment should be viewed as another form of out-migration in the region "because you sign on not really knowing where it's going to take you. And out-migration is itself almost entirely for economic reasons.

    "It may well be, for Maritimers with limited job prospects, joining the military is not that much different from going to the oil sands in Alberta, except for the fact there's a chance you'll get killed. It does fit in with the decades-old pattern of Maritimers leaving the province in one way or another."

    There's a similarm phenomenon in the United States, where Southerners play a disproportionately large role in thjat country's armed forces.

    * The South provides a disproportionate share of the nation’s troops. An analysis of Department of Defense state reveals that 35% of the nation’s active-duty military personnel come from 13 Southern states. Of the top 15 states where those serving in the military are born, the South accounts for seven.

    * The South especially dominant in stationing troops. 51% of active-duty U.S. military personnel based in the continental U.S. are stationed in the South. Four of the top states for stationing troops are in the South: Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia.

    * The South has been the region most highly impacted by the loss of soldiers in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of the U.S. troops that have died in Iraq, 38% were based in the South. 47% of those killed in Afghanistan were based in Southern states.

    The South provides nearly twice as many recruits per capita than the Northeast. This extended Heritage Foundation review points to the relative underrepresentation of the populations of California, the Midwest, and the Northeast in the country in the number of recruits, although some of its other claims re: the representative nature of the army's recruitment may be significantly overstated.

    As for the United Kingdom, low unemployment rates have contributed to the growing number of recruits of non-British citizenship, amounting to nearly 10% of the total numbers.

    This pattern makes sense. The link between relative economic deprivation and the propensity to enlist in the military--not, it should be emphasized, under draft conditions, but as volunteers--is well-known. Service in the military is socially prestigious, provides an easy way to escape a relatively deprived background, and--perhaps most importantly--provides a secure, nay, even guaranteed, job and source of income. Many militaries also provide benefits, like free health care or education subsidies. If these options are available to someone who'd otherwise lack them, whether because of region or because of social class, it's not surprising that they'd enlist.

    This leads to an interesting set of questions. Do these North Atlantic trends prevail elsewhere: are Sicilians more likely to be in the military than Lombards, DOMiens than Métros, Brazilians from Recife versus Brazilians from Rio Grande do Sul, Siberians than Moscovites? Economic disparities within European Union member-states' regions, never mind between social classes, would seem to create incentives in that developed area. The question of where people formerly in the military settle on the end of that career would also be interesting to answer: do they return to their home regions, or, equipped with financial and career-related capital, do they head to their country's economic nuclei?

    Sunday, November 08, 2009

    If people around the world could move, who would leave for where?

    A recent Gallup poll that reported very large numbers of people--700 million, actually--right now would like to migrate between countries has gotten quite a lot of attention from the press. What, exactly, did the pollsters find?

    From its surveys in 135 countries between 2007 and 2009, Gallup finds residents of sub-Saharan African countries are most likely to express a desire to move abroad permanently. Thirty-eight percent of the adult population in the region -- or an estimated 165 million -- say they would like to do this if the opportunity arises. Residents in Asian countries are the least likely to say they would like to move -- with 10% of the adult population, or roughly 250 million, expressing a desire to migrate permanently.

    The United States is the top desired destination country for the 700 million adults who would like to relocate permanently to another country. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of these respondents, which translates to more than 165 million adults worldwide, name the United States as their desired future residence. With an additional estimated 45 million saying they would like to move to Canada, Northern America is one of the two most desired regions.

    The rest of the top desired destination countries (those where an estimated 25 million or more adults would like to go) are predominantly European. Forty-five million adults who would like to move name the United Kingdom or France as their desired destination, while 35 million would like to go to Spain and 25 million would like to relocate to Germany. Thirty million name Saudi Arabia and 25 million name Australia.

    Roughly 210 million adults around the world would like to move to a country in the European Union, which is similar to the estimated number who would like to move to Northern America. However, about half of the estimated 80 million adults who live in the EU and would like to move permanently to another country would like to move to another country within the EU -- the highest desired intra-regional migration rate in the world.

    Most of the world's international immigrants, according to the 2009 United Nations' Human Development Report, move from one developing country to another developing country or between developed countries. Gallup's data would suggest then that the countries people desire to migrate to permanently do not necessarily reflect reality -- especially in regard to developing countries. Eighty percent of those in developing countries who would like to move permanently to another country would like to move to a developed country, while 13% of respondents in developed countries would like to move to a developing country.

    What countries would see the biggest changes?

    "Across the countries surveyed, Singapore posts the highest positive PNMI of all countries and areas, with a net migration index value of +260%. This means that Singapore's adult population would increase from an estimated 3.6 million to as high as 13 million. The Democratic of the Congo (Kinshasa) posts the highest negative PNMI, with a net migration index value of -60%, which means its adult population would decrease from an estimated 32 million to as low as 13 million."

    More, if you go to this detailed table, you'll see the estimated spectacular changes, with the French, German, Canadian and British populations reaching more than 90 million (if from very different bases), the Chinese, Indian, and Russian populations each shrinking by 5%, Ecuador, Ukraine, Romania and Taiwan (!) by 20%, and countries in Central America, North and West Africa, and a variety of African failed states with Haiti facing population shrinkages by more than a third and often more than half.

    There's problems with this poll, of course. Are the questions and the results truly comparable between countries, are the respondents motivated by enduring or ephemeral factors, are the pollsters correct in assuming that there would not be as much migration between rich and poor countries as the results claim? Still, as questionable as this poll may be, it does provide interesting insight into what people say they would like to do, and how they perceive their home countries and destination countries? Britain, France and Spain seem to be more attractive than Germany or Italy, there at least seems to be the possibility of greatly intensified internal migration in the European Union, the low percentages of potential emigrants in Russia and most of Eurasia correspond to absolutely large numbers, and so on. These perceptions may yet approach reality, at least.

    Friday, November 06, 2009

    A brief note on the problems facing the Canadian guest worker program

    Canada's Low Skill Pilot Project, instituted earlier this decade to allow for the temporary migration of low-skilled foreign migrants to fill gaps in the Canadian market, has received quite a lot of negative attention recently. Earlier, the program was criticized un detail by Toronto Star columnist Carol Goar.

    In 2008, close to 200,000 temporary foreign workers arrived in Canada to drive trucks, serve fast food, clean buildings, even do government jobs. Today, more than half of those entering the country take this backdoor route.

    Employers use the program as a source of cheap labour. The government promotes it as an efficient way to fill job vacancies. Immigration consultants capitalize on it, charging applicants hefty fees and promising them high wages, good working conditions, decent housing and employer-paid trips back to their home country.

    How did a small detour around Canada's normal immigrant intake system expand into a high-speed thoroughfare for people who wouldn't otherwise qualify for admission?

    And how will young Canadians, laid-off older workers and job seekers without post-secondary education get an economic foothold with so many entry-level positions filled?

    [. . .]

    Since the Tories took power, the number of temporary foreign workers accepted into the country has risen from 122,723 a year to 192,519 a year - a 67 per cent increase.

    There is strong, albeit anecdotal, evidence that employers are replacing Canadian workers with lower-coast temporary foreign workers or recruiting abroad in the first place.

    At the same time, there are persistent reports that recruits from poor countries are being exploited. Their tenure in Canada is dependent on their employer. They are not fully protected by the Charter of Rights. And many are willing to put up with substandard working conditions to support their families back home.

    What human rights activists fear is that Canada is heading down the same path as many European countries whose "guest worker" programs have resulted in a large pool of illegal immigrants, foreign workers incapable of becoming permanent residents or citizens who go underground and live on the margins of society.

    A situation akin to that facing Germany's Gastarbeitar and that community's descendants, often deprived of the ability to assimilate legally into their host country and socially deprived, would be a serious change for a Canada that pride itself on a relatively permeable immigration regime, taxi-driving doctors aside. Just the other day, the program has been criticized by Auditor General Sheila Fraser as badly run (one of many federal programs, actually, but leave that aside).

    Fraser said federal authorities do not follow up on job offers for foreign workers to see if the jobs offered are real, if the employer can afford promised wages and if there is a real need for the worker.

    Fraser's report follows a year-long series of Star articles that chronicled the exploitation of temporary workers, often referred to as "guest" workers, and live-in caregivers, some of whom were charged as much as $10,000 by recruiters and ended up with bogus jobs with phantom employers.

    In some cases, the Star found nannies were housed in high numbers in basement apartments and flophouses around the GTA, then forced to work illegally to start paying recruiters their placement fees.

    Many were also forced to surrender their passports and social insurance cards to these agencies to obtain work with other employers.

    "The problems we noted could leave temporary workers in a vulnerable position and pose significant risks to the integrity of the immigration program as a whole," Fraser said in a statement accompanying her report to Parliament.

    The guest worker solution doesn't particularly appeal to me, inasmuch as it's an inadequate substitute for a permeable migration regime and is often counterproductive--from the perspective of host countries--by promoting permanent settlement as migrants caught in a restrictive framework try to bring their families with them. The situation of Turks in Germany comes most readily to mind. Can any of our readers cite an example of a well-functioning guest worker program?

    Thursday, November 05, 2009

    Atlantic Canada's aging population and expected labour shortages

    Over at my blog I've linked to a recent study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, "The Future of Atlantic Canada: ealing with the Demographic Drought", by Amelia Demarco and Bradley George.

    CFIB members have identified several advantages to operating a business in Atlantic Canada. They include the ability to balance work and family life, the region’s proximity to the U.S. market, and the perceived lower cost of living relative to other parts of Canada. Atlantic Canada also offers a highly skilled and educated workforce, with some of the lowest turnover and absenteeism rates in the country.

    Unfortunately, the out-migration of youth, an aging population, and fewer labour force entrants due to low immigration levels and declining birth rates have all contributed to a growing labour shortage in Atlantic Canada. With fewer young people entering the workforce, employers are doing more to attract and retain this group, as well as seek other alternatives. In fact, the region’s average weekly wages have increased faster than the national average, as business owners try to compete for quality employees.

    While the economic downturn may have temporarily eased labour shortages across the country, the problem is expected to worsen as soon as the economy recovers. As governments unveil multi-million dollar stimulus plans to create jobs, firms hoping to successfully compete for government contracts must first ensure they have enough skilled employees to carry out the work.

    While the entire country faces demographic challenges, the problem is more acute in Atlantic Canada and will reach a critical point in the region sooner than in other parts of the country. In fact, Atlantic Canada’s population is aging faster than any other region in Canada; it has the lowest fertility rates in the country, attracts the smallest share of Canadian immigrants, and has the highest out-migration rates in Canada.

    These factors will, as the report notes, cause serious issues, is indeed causing serious issues.

    Between 2004 and 2006, approximately one in five small business owners in Atlantic Canada reported a longterm vacancy. In 2007, this number increased to nearly one in three.

    In terms of the type of job that employers have the most difficulty filling, approximately four out of 10 small business owners in Atlantic Canada are in greatest need of employees with a community college degree or apprenticeship training, such as carpenters or mechanics. Another 45 percent of employers need employees with secondary school or specialized occupation specific training, such as salespeople or machine operators. More than half of business owners need employees to fill positions requiring no post-secondary education, including many entry-level jobs.

    The dramatic increase in long-term vacancies demonstrates that Atlantic Canada’s labour shortage troubles are far from over. While cutbacks and job losses, stemming from the current economic downturn, have shifted focus away from the problem temporarily, they are merely delaying the full effect of the labour shortage.

    In fact, a number of research reports have attempted to anticipate the effects of labour shortages in Atlantic Canada. For example, a recent study by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) predicts that by 2016, the number of available workers will be smaller than the number of available jobs and by 2026, approximately 12.5 percent of jobs will be vacant in Nova Scotia. A similar study by the Policy Research Centre at the University of New Brunswick predicts that the province’s labour force will begin to decline as soon as 2011. And in 2007, the Newfoundland and Labrador Skills Task Force released a report that predicted serious skilled labour shortages for many of the province’s large-scale development projects in the coming years.

    The consequences of this will be severe, with the erosion of the workforce combining with Atlantic Canada's traditionally low productivity growth relative to the Canadian average to make convergence a practical impossibility. Increaisng immigration and diminishing emigration to other provinces are the authors' main recommendations, but the plausibility of actually implementing this program given the existing economic gap and the tendency of immigrants to cocnentrate in major cities is slim.