Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future – Ian Goldin

At a national level, the educational gains from migration vary with the age of the migrant. Those who migrate to the United States as children (before 13) or as young adults (25-29) reap the greatest educational benefits from moving. Immigration between ages 13 and 19 confers a relative disadvantage on migrants, however, because of obstacles with language and integration in schools – which are no easier to overcome in teenage years.

Ian Goldin, together with Geoffrey Cameron and Meera Balarajan, did a fantastic piece of work with this book. The volume is an almost academic analysis, filled with figures and charts, dissecting with great acuity the movements of humans on the planet. Divided into three parts, it covers the past, the present and the future of migration.

Walking towards a new future

The message is at the end of the book, where migration is portrayed as a short-pain and long-gain strategy. An interesting insight is that people are moving historically less between countries, but further away for the ones that move.

While the book includes some solid references, it fails to see the downside on migration. It is looking at only one side of the coin. Migration indeed brings benefits for both the migrant and the host-state, but what about the drawbacks? This part is not researched, which makes the conclusions looking biased. One of those conclusions is a call for a global leadership that will advance a global migration agenda.

Nonetheless, the book makes a passionate argument for migrants (called “exceptional people”). It looks at the benefits and motives behind immigration, from pre-history to post the World Wars, the present day and the future trends.

A good read, particularly for immigrants and those interested in the subject.

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