Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration's Local Dividends

From revitalizing blighted Detroit in the United States to increasing the vibrancy of Tech City in London, immigration is often held out as a solution for economic development.

A pair of new reports released today from the Migration Policy Institute's Transatlantic Council on Migration continues the research series on the ability of cities and regions to harness the benefits of migration. The first report, Revitalizing Detroit: Is There a Role for Immigration?, considers how policymakers might use immigration to re-energize a city that has become a byword for urban decline and economic decay. Steve Tobocman, an economic revitalization leader and former Michigan state legislator, assesses a host of immigration initiatives designed to address the shrinking and aging population base, diminished city resources, and lack of high-skilled human capital that Detroit confronts. "Immigration alone cannot save Detroit, but if carefully managed in the context of a broader economic development strategy, it may be one promising tool for boosting Detroit's economic prospects," Tobocman writes.

The second report, The Human-Capital Needs of Tech City, London, examines the role that skilled migrants can play in high-tech clusters such as London's Tech City, also known as Silicon Roundabout. While immigration policy can serve as a route for new talent, report author Max Nathan argues that Tech City firms are having trouble making the most of immigration, with visa restrictions making it difficult to hire the right workers. The report suggests that policymakers' control over cluster development is limited and that such development rarely produces expected benefits. Meanwhile, policies that are not cluster specific—such as human-capital interventions aimed at improving the international supply of workers through migration or the local supply of workers via skills training—are likely to have indirect positive effects.

These reports are the latest in a series from the Transatlantic Council on Migration's 11th plenary meeting on the topic "Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration's Local Dividends." 


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