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The Impact of Mass Migration on Rich-World Economies and Businesses

The world is witnessing an unprecedented wave of mass migration, with a significant increase in the number of people moving to richer countries. This migration boom is reshaping the demographic and cultural landscape of these countries, with implications for their economies and businesses.


World Economy

The Current Migration Boom

The rich world is currently experiencing a migration boom of historic proportions. Last year, 1.2 million people moved to Britain, likely the highest number ever. Net migration to Australia is currently twice the rate before the COVID-19 pandemic, and Spain's equivalent figure recently hit an all-time high. Nearly 1.4 million people on net are expected to move to America this year, one-third more than before the pandemic. In 2022, net migration to Canada was more than double the previous record. In Germany, it was even higher than during the “migration crisis” of 2015. The rich world as a whole is in the middle of an unprecedented migration boom, with its foreign-born population rising faster than at any point in history.


The Economic Implications of Migration

Migration does not merely increase the size of the population in the destination country; it also increases demographic and cultural diversity, particularly when immigrants have come from very distant countries. The diversity created by mass migration can be a good thing for economic growth. For instance, a pair of researchers mobilized a large-scale dataset on international migration between 1960 and 2010 and found that cultural heterogeneity has a discernible positive impact on the growth rate of GDP over long time periods. Developing economies are even more likely to experience a sharper increase in GDP growth rate after their populations become more diverse.


The Role of Migrants in Business Innovation

Migration not only brings diversity to the population but also to the business landscape. Migrants often bring unique ideas and perspectives that can lead to innovative business practices and products. For instance, Cristina Talacko, a migrant from Brazil to Australia, started her own business selling pão de queijo, a popular Brazilian snack, when she realized her Australian friends loved it. Despite the challenges, such as importing the right machinery from Brazil, her business boomed, and she now exports this novel, gluten-free treat to 25 countries. This example illustrates how migrants can introduce new ideas and products to the market, contributing to business innovation and economic growth.


Migrants as a Source of Skilled Labor

Migrants often bring valuable skills and talents that can benefit businesses. For instance, skilled migrants can fill labor shortages in certain sectors, such as technology and healthcare, contributing to the productivity and competitiveness of businesses in these sectors. Moreover, the diverse skills and experiences of migrants can foster creativity and innovation within businesses, leading to the development of new products and services.


The Impact of Migration Policies on Businesses

Migration policies can also have significant implications for businesses. Friendly immigration policies can attract skilled migrants, benefiting businesses and the economy. On the other hand, restrictive immigration policies can limit the availability of skilled labor, potentially hampering business growth and competitiveness. Therefore, it is crucial for policymakers to consider the potential impacts of migration policies on businesses when formulating these policies.


The current wave of mass migration presents both challenges and opportunities for rich-world economies and businesses. While it can put pressure on resources and infrastructure, it also brings economic benefits by contributing to economic growth, enhancing cultural diversity, and addressing labor shortages. As such, it is crucial for these countries and businesses to adopt policies that not only manage the challenges associated with migration but also harness its potential benefits.

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