Exodus: immigration and multiculturalism in the 21st century by Paul Collier

Exodus: immigration and multiculturalism in the 21st century by Paul Collier is a book that was on my to-read list for 6 months. I had high expectations from the book, as I was very impressed with the way he teaches. The book didn’t disappoint at all. It’s easy to read, very well structured.

The subject of the book is immigration. As a migrant, most people assume that I am pro-immigration, no checks, no quotas, no requirements (like learning the language). That is not true. All these aspects, checks, quotas, requirements are talked about in the book and this is why I think the book is great. A must read for anybody wanting to understand better the process of migration, how it affects the people from the host nation, the migrants, and the society they leave behind.

Exodus: immigration and multiculturalism in the 21st century by Paul Collier

The book is structured in 6 chapters. It starts with a presentation of the migration process, the creation of a diaspora, and its rate of absorption. It also talks about how the diaspora influences migration, how a bigger diaspora aids a bigger migration. Collier uses examples to make the theories clear, and those are so interesting. I think that learning about the differences in morality and trust is easier if a story or two is involved.

The economic aspects of immigration for the host country are very interesting too. Some are quite obvious, like a slightly reduction in wages and an increase in house prices. Comparisons between countries with different approaches to migration are fascinating, like Japan and Dubai.

In Exodus, Collier talks about the ones that have the most to gain and lose from migrating. The answer to both these questions is the same, funnily enough. He obviously talks about migration from low to medium income countries to high income countries and the main reason for migration is an economic one. Therefore, this will not apply to every situation. For me, personally, I can’t say I’ve experienced what he was mentioning in the lose section. Also, he doesn’t take into consideration migration from a high income country to another high income country. I imagine those situations don’t make a big difference and they are too few to matter.

The countries the migrants are leaving go through a change of their own. One of the most interesting facts is that migrants are influencing their family and friends to get involved into the political process and vote in elections, in low income countries. Of course, the migrants that do this are the ones that are at least partly assimilated in the host country. There they see the importance of a better political system, hence the importance of voting.

Another topic tackled in the book is the “brain drain”. The definition of the “brain drain” is that skilled people are emigrating to another country, leaving the country of origin with less skilled people. While it must seem like this, it’s not always the case. I found the analysis thought-provoking.

The countries of origin feel the effects of migration by the remittances made by the migrants to their families. Interestingly, if the high income countries would have more strict rules for emigration, this would lead to less people leaving their countries, and, instead, a higher remittance sent back. If is easier to emigrate, the ones that already left do not feel compelled to send (as much) money.

The last chapters of the book are dedicated to nationalism and migration policies. I fully agree with him when it comes nationalism, that some is good. In moderation, it helps building the community spirit and it gives people a sense of belonging. The narratives in the developed countries is that nationalism is “bad” and I don’t think that. Being proud of being British (just an example) doesn’t imply racism and intolerance towards others.

Sir Paul finishes the book by briefly talking about policy packages, ceilings for migration, selectivity, integration, and legalizing illegal immigration. All makes sense. I think both main parties should read this book and have a chat after that. It might change the way they see immigration, its role in the host country, its impact on the migrants, and its effects for the country of origin.

A fascinating book I enjoyed reading. A must if you are interested in the subject.

Exodus: immigration and multiculturalism in the 21st century by Paul Collier

Details about the picture: Eclairs and Chocolate fudge cake, two desserts from two different countries that are considered desirable by migrants.
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes!
Published by: Penguin Books
Year it was published: 2013
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Non-Fiction
Pages: 309

About the author: Sir Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. He is also a Professorial Fellow of St Antony’s College. In 2014, he received a knighthood for services to promoting research and policy change in Africa.
He wrote many books, like the award winning The Bottom Billion (2007), Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places (2009), and The Plundered Planet: How to reconcile prosperity with nature (2010).
Paul Collier is the grandson of a German migrant. He briefly talks about his personal views in the prologue of the book. I can relate, as there are a few migrants in my genealogical tree and, as I said, I’m a migrant myself. His grandfather moved from a poor German village to the UK. His father changed his name and integrated among the indigenous population. This lead to Paul Collier to be such a successful person, with big achievements, inspiring others.
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2 thoughts on “Exodus: immigration and multiculturalism in the 21st century by Paul Collier”

  • This sounds like a really interesting read. Im more drawn to ladies books but I’m also showing a keen interest in educating myself on world matters. I do have an interest in migration as it stands, this might be a great read for me

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