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Immigration and Globalization (and Deglobalization)

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Immigration policy is often portrayed as a zero-sum trade-off between labor and capital or between high- and low-skilled labor. Many have attributed the rise of populist politicians and populist movements to immigrants and/or immigration policy. While immigration has distributional implications, we argue that something is clearly missing from the discussion: the fact that migrants are an engine of globalization, especially for countries in the Global South. Migration and migrant networks serve to expand economic markets, distribute information across national borders, and diffuse democratic norms and practices throughout the world, increasing trade and investment flows. We further argue that many commentators have got the causal relationship backward: Instead of immigration reducing support for globalization, we argue that trade, financial flows, and offshoring have reduced support for immigration among the elite and a vocal plurality of citizens in the Global North.

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