Ian Goldin discusses the migration crisis

Exceptional people jacketWith the wave of migrants and refugees from the Middle East traveling to Europe, migration has once again become a politically and emotionally heated international debate. In this exclusive PUP interview, Ian Goldin, Oxford University Professor of Globalisation and Development, author of The Butterfly Defect, and co-author of Exceptional People, clarifies the facts and dismisses the myths about this societal movement that dates back hundreds of years.

Why did you write your book, Exceptional People?

IG: I believe that the debate about migration is dominated by emotional rather than fact-based responses. I wrote the book to assemble the available evidence and place current debates in both a historical and future looking context. In the USA, the immigration debate is as politically charged as it is in Europe and many other countries. But as the book shows, no country would be where it is today without the benefit of waves of previous immigrants.

Are there more migrants today than in the past?

IG: Migrants today account for about 3% of the world’s population, which is roughly the same proportion as it has been over the past hundred years. It is actually lower as a share of the US or European population than it was in the age of mass migration in the second half of the 19th century. Migrants are defined as people crossing international borders, so the fact that there are 100 more countries in the world today means than 100 years ago, means that people that used to move within a country, are now defined as migrants. This trend has accelerated with the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the rise of independence movements.

What do you think are the main myths about migrants?

IG: That they take locals jobs, that they reduce wages, that they increase unemployment, that they are a drain on government budgets and that they are more prone to commit crime. None of these fallacies are borne out by the evidence.

Surely new arrivals means less employment and lower wages for locals?

IG: Although this seems to be intuitively obvious, it is not borne out by numerous studies. The reason is that migrants tend to fill needs in the labour market which local people are not providing, allowing the economy to grow more rapidly, which in turn creates more jobs and provides more taxes and services and leads to higher incomes and wages. This is both true of unskilled workers, where migrants allow greater levels of participation of local workers. For example, female workforce participation increases as migrants undertake tasks such as childcare that may keep mothers at home. And migrants create cheaper goods and services, such as food, cleaning and hospital care, which allows locals to be better off and spend more on other services undertaken by locals, such as professional and entertainment services. Migrants are also a powerful source of dynamism and innovation in society as is evident from Silicon Valley and a quick scan of who the Nobel Prize and Academy Award winners are. This increases the growth rate and competitiveness of societies, which leads to higher levels of employment and wages. It also provides for more dynamic and diverse entertainment, food, fashion and other choices for citizens.

So are there no costs associated with migration?

IG: There are costs. Particular communities may at times feel understandably threatened by the inflow of individuals with different cultural, religious or other views. Groups of workers may also feel the competitive pressures of immigrants. The challenge for cities, states and countries is to manage these flows, to ensure that each wave of immigrants is integrated effectively into society. The benefits of migration are national and are felt strongest in the medium term, whereas the costs tend to be local and short-term. This is why communities may need help, for example in ensuring that migrants do not put undue pressure on housing or education or other local services. The answer is not to stop migration, but to manage it more effectively.

Are there good examples?

IG: The USA is the best example, as its history is one of immigration. As I show in Exceptional People, it is vital that the lessons from this and other successful experiences are learnt to ensure that migration continues to play its central role in meeting the challenges of the future.

What about refugees?

IG: Refugees are very different to other migrants as they are in severe danger of death or persecution if they remain in their home countries. There is an internationally agreed legal definition of what constitutes a refugee. The desperate situation of Syrians illustrates that despite the legal and ethical imperatives, refugees regularly are denied safe passage and asylum. In principle, refugees aim to return home when it is safe to do so, but they may be compelled to stay in their host countries for many years. I show in Exceptional People that the policies of the host country, including as to whether refugees are allowed to work, fundamentally shapes the extent to which they are able to integrate and contribute economically.

Ian Goldin is Oxford University Professor of Globalisation and Development. He has served as vice president of the World Bank and advisor to President Nelson Mandela, and chief executive of the Development Bank of Southern Africa. His many books include Globalization for Development and The Butterfly Defect.

Ian Goldin on Ebola and the consequences of globalization

goldinIan Goldin, co-author (with Mike Mariathasan) of The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do About It, voiced (or rather, wrote) his opinion on the Ebola outbreak and the role globalization has played thus far. In his PBS Newshour article, which can be read in its entirety, here, Goldin states, “globalization does not only lead to the spreading of ‘goods,’ such as economic opportunity and vaccines, but also to the spreading of ‘bads,’ such as diseases, financial crises and cyber attacks.” Ebola is just the most recent “bad” to come from greater globalization.

Goldin’s solution to prevent future infectious disease outbreaks (and other “bads”)  may not be popular among government officials responsible for budgeting resources, but it may be the only option. Outbreaks, like we’ve seen with Ebola, might become more common in an age of higher population density and increased international travel, yet the organization most responsible for preventing the spread of these diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO), is terribly underfunded according to Goldin.

“A breakdown or absence of public health infrastructure is the driving factor in over 40 percent of infectious disease outbreaks internationally,” writes Goldin. He also notes that the international organizations–WHO, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and UN Security Council, to name a few–needed to handle international crises “lack the leadership, legitimacy or capability to manage the spill-overs of globalization or emergent threats” because “national governments have stymied vital reforms…and attempt[ed] to wrest power back from what they think are mysterious, distant institutions.”

Goldin concludes his article with an ultimatum: “In order to harvest the ‘goods’ of globalization we need to invest in the institutions that manage the ‘bads.'”


PUP News of the World — July 7, 2014


Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!

now 7.7


Are gayborhoods an endangered species? So begins the recent Gay City News op-ed written by Princeton University Press author Amin Ghaziani. The piece coincided with this summer’s pride marches across the United States. Gay neighborhoods, like the legendary Castro District in San Francisco and New York’s Greenwich Village, have long provided sexual minorities with safe havens in an often unsafe world. Ghaziani writes:

There are numerous benefits that gay districts, and perhaps only gay districts, provide. It is in these spaces that LGBT people create unique ways of life and expressions of community like annual Pride parades; articulate a distinct political voice; gestate organizations and businesses from bars and bookstores to community centers and nonprofits; find each other for friendship and fellowship; nurture our families (same-sex couples with children tend to live in similar areas of the city); and feel an incomparable sense of safety from hate crimes, discrimination, bigotry, and bias.

Check out the full piece on the Gay City News website.

Amin Ghaziani’s forthcoming book, There Goes the Gayborhood?, was featured in a book roundup “Pride reading list: LGBTrue stories” in the Bay Area Reporter. Ghaziani provides an incisive look at the origins of gayborhoods, the reasons why they are changing today, and their prospects for the future. Drawing on a wealth of evidence–including census data, opinion polls, hundreds of newspaper reports from across the United States, and more than one hundred original interviews with residents in Chicago, one of the most paradigmatic cities in America–There Goes the Gayborhood? argues that political gains and societal acceptance are allowing gays and lesbians to imagine expansive possibilities for a life beyond the gayborhood. The dawn of a new post-gay era is altering the character and composition of existing enclaves across the country, but the spirit of integration can coexist alongside the celebration of differences in subtle and sometimes surprising ways.

Read the introduction of There Goes the Gayborhood? here.


Globalization has changed the modern world, allowing people to escape poverty and get access to better healthcare. However, PUP authors Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan argue that globalization has also increased systemic risks, as the repercussions of local events now cascade over national borders and the fallout of financial meltdowns and environmental disasters affects everyone. Their new book, The Butterfly Defect, addresses the widening gap between systemic risks and their effective management. It shows how the new dynamics of turbo-charged globalization has the potential and power to destabilize our societies. Drawing on the latest insights from a wide variety of disciplines, Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan provide practical guidance for how governments, businesses, and individuals can better manage risk in our contemporary world.

Mariathasan wrote a piece for the London School of Economics blog entitled “To preserve the benefits from globalization, global connectivity requires global coordination.” He writes:

We have built globalization on a variety of complex and interconnected networks, without which many of the vital functions of our societies can no longer be provided. The speed with which technological progress and innovation have allowed these networks to grow since the turn of the century has outpaced the institutional structures that support them. The governance regimes available for many of the aforementioned global networks are less sophisticated than that of finance, and the structures available to respond to risks cascading across domains are even more limited.

Visit the LSE blog to view the entire piece, including the authors’ six guiding principles for global governance, and check out the book trailer below.

You can preview the introduction to The Butterfly Defect here.


Is liberalism dead? PUP author and former editor for the Economist Edmund Fawcett says no. In a recent piece entitled “Reclaiming Liberalism,” Fawcett addresses the current problems facing the ideology today. Fawcett writes:

Liberals are living in alarming times. A few years before his death in 2012, the British historian Eric Hobsbawm passed summary judgment on the future of liberal democracy. ‘None of the major problems facing humanity in the 21st century can be solved,’ he wrote in the British magazine Prospect, ‘by the principles that still dominate the developed countries of the West: unlimited economic growth and technical progress, the ideal of individual autonomy, freedom of choice, electoral democracy.’ Hobsbawm did not say which were more at fault: liberal aims or liberal capacities. It hardly mattered. His prophetic voice seemed to echo the gathering fears of liberals themselves that perhaps their day was done.

More is in play here than an irrational loss of nerve. Much of what has shaken liberal self-belief since the 1990s is real enough and well-attested: external shocks from violent Islamism; injury to liberal values done by espionage, war-making and torture; a global banking collapse with its costly rescues and enduring economic harm.

Fawcett goes on to argue that the ideals of liberalism are still important but that liberalism must change radically if it is to survive in the future. View the entire piece in Aeon Magazine.

Check out the introduction of Fawcett’s new book, Liberalism: The Life of an Idea. In this engrossing history of liberalism–the first in English for many decades–Fawcett traces the ideals, successes, and failures of this central political tradition through the lives and ideas of a rich cast of European and American thinkers and politicians, from the early nineteenth century to today. Using a broad idea of liberalism, the book discusses celebrated thinkers from Constant and Mill to Berlin, Hayek, and Rawls, as well as more neglected figures. Its twentieth-century politicians include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Willy Brandt, but also Hoover, Reagan, and Kohl. The story tracks political liberalism from its beginnings in the 1830s to its long, grudging compromise with democracy, through a golden age after 1945 to the present mood of challenge and doubt.

Fawcett was recently interviewed on BBC Radio’s Free Thinking. Hear more from him in the video below, as he discusses Liberalism:

Ian Goldin explains “The Butterfly Defect”

Ian Goldin is director of the Oxford Martin School and professor of globalization and development at the University of Oxford. He has served as vice president of the World Bank and an advisor to President Nelson Mandela. His many books include Divided Nations, Globalization for Development, and Exceptional People (Princeton). His most recent book is The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It, co-authored with Mike Mariathasan, which you can sample for free here [PDF].


bookjacket The Butterfly Defect
How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It
Ian Goldin & Mike Mariathasan

Ian Goldin, former VP of the World Bank, on Blog Talk Radio

Exceptional People, a new book by Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron, and Meera Balarajan, puts migration in a deep historical context–some 50,000 years of it.  This topic isn’t going away any time soon, not with election season just around the corner, so this is one to keep an eye on.

By bringing a whole new set of evidence to the raging debate,  Goldin argues that migration is not simply a problem to be fixed but rather a process to be managed and coordinating that management is the challenge currently facing the U.S.  Exceptional People will be published on June 1 and to kick off his U.S. media tour, Ian Goldin was interviewed by “Patriot Games” for BlogTalkRadio.