Measuring Development as if People Mattered More than Places

This article in Slate highlights the work of Michael Clemens and Lance Pritchett who see migration as a means of development.

The article summarizes a crucial point of the study in the following words:
Many poor people became richer by leaving their country of birth. Clemens and Pritchett estimate that "two of every five living Mexicans who have escaped poverty did so by leaving Mexico; for Haitians it is four out of five."

The study invites us to break from traditional measures of national income:

Clemens and Pritchett estimate that the income of the Samoan-born is nearly twice the income of the Samoan resident, and the Guyanese-born are more than twice as well-off as residents of Guyana.

The study by Clemens and Pritchett is entitled "Income per Natural: Measuring Development as if People Mattered More than Places." The study shows that poverty estimates are different for national residents and naturals and reveals that "26 percent of Haitian naturals who are not poor by the two-dollar-a-day standard live in the United States".

The study concludes that:

The bottom line: migration is one of the most important sources of poverty reduction for a large portion of the developing world. If economic development is defined as rising human well being, then a residence-neutral measure of well-being emphasizes that crossing international borders is not an alternative to economic development, it is economic development.

This is all very interesting and I wonder how it will all tie in to the ongoing debate about how or whether to channel remittances toward development.

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