Book Review: Migration In The 21st Century

Migration In The 21st Century:  How Will Globalization And Climate Change Affect Migration And Settlement, by Paul Challen

Given the importance that the author places on exaggerated climate change as well as an overly optimistic view of globalization, there are quite a few issues with this book.  That is not to say that it is a bad book, but it is a book that works with some mistaken premises and as a result cannot help but be off when it comes to its conclusions.  It does appear at least that the author’s assumption of the virtuous circle of migration is not something that is widely held by the population of destination nations for migrants.  Indeed, the author posits that nations are impoverished by those who leave them behind and enriched by those who join them, but nations appear to be very eager to cast off their political and economic refugees and disinclined to accept them, suggesting that the benefits of receiving low-skilled immigrants who depress wages is not all that great to the common people of the nations those immigrants wish to migrate to, and that there are substantial benefits for a nation in losing a politically restive population that is discontent about economic opportunities.

This short book of less than 50 pages is divided into six chapters and various other supplementary material.  The author begins with a discussion of how it is that we look into the future, as the author appears very much to want to be recognized as a futurist (1).  After that there is a discussion about the history of trade and migration, which the author relates to each other, even though there has in general throughout history been a greater tolerance for goods that are transported rather than people, unless those people are slaves and useful as property to the people shipping and receiving them (2), of course.  The author then spends the next two chapters talking about the big idea concepts that he thinks about as driving migration patterns in the 21st century, namely the rise of globalization and the resulting decline of national borders (3), although he tends to discount the rise of populist movements that are hostile to this, as well as global climate change (4), which the author appears to overestimate as a driver of migration.  After that the author talks about the future of climate change (5), thus further imperiling his credibility as a prophet of the future, before discussing what the future will bring (6).

There are at least a few assumptions that are made when it comes to modeling future human migrations, and these models are very insecure, seeing as they assume rising sea levels that will force people to move into shrinking territory, and also seem to assume that globalization will be able to overcome the rising reluctance of people in many countries in Europe as well as the United States to accept migrants without some severe limitations and restrictions on how many and what sort of people they are willing to accept.  The author sensibly looks at this subject from a historical perspective, although it should be noted that the 20th century was more restrictive than the 19th century and before with regards to migration, and that peoples and governments have shown themselves very willing to act against illegal immigrants, something this author perhaps understandably does not wish to focus on.  It is hard to know what the future will bring, and the author’s models are not good enough to give insight to this question, even though it never hurts to speculate on such matters and to ponder the sorts of things that will encourage or discourage the migration of tourists as well as immigrants, from public health concerns to cultural and economic ones.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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