Return Migration

Until my recent upsurge in interest in migration issues, thanks to Kerry, I had assumed that relocation was something people did for good and that people came to America to become Americans. I wasn't aware of the large masses of Poles, Italians, Irish, etc., who came to the U.S. to work for a while, and then left again. And there's a good reason for that: those people's ancestors didn't write American social studies textbooks. Anyway, most Mexicans don't care that much to be Americans, either. But a lot of them would like to work here. And then, eventually, go home.
This story from Reuter's about Polish immigrants to England moving back to Poland does a good job of illustrating the dynamic:

Four years after Polish graphic designer Chris Rychter headed to Britain to find work and study as a citizen of the European Union, he and his wife have returned home.

Part of a swelling tide of migration back east, they are having a house built in a suburb of the Polish capital.

“It took me just three days to find a job back in Warsaw,” Rychter, 27, told Reuters. “We never saw Britain as home… We went for the adventure and to get some professional experience.”


the Rychters show how Europe has shrunk and that — contrary to a popular view — migrant flows are not all one-way.

Economists now see a turnstile or pendulum effect of people moving between countries after quite short stints, in search of better conditions.

Statistics on migration within the 27-nation EU are not precise, but around half of an estimated one million people from eastern Europe who moved to Britain since 2004 have already returned home, according to a recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a British think-tank.

Increased labor market integration with Mexico would help improve the Mexican economy, making it relatively more attractive for Mexicans to stay or return, just like it's doing for Poland.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

2 thoughts

  1. I believe that the total failure of economic education is one of the reasons why we are in this mess to being with. ‘Improving’ education by emphasizing failed theories that have a terrible track record will not help us. What is required is a move towards true free markets in which there are no central banks creating purchasing power out of thin air in order to save bad decisions made by speculators and we eliminate regulations designed by governments to target certain behaviours by savers and consumers. Crony capitalism and socialism are failures and will always be failures. It is time that we started to respect entrepreneurs, workers and savers by letting them keep their earnings and maintain their purchasing power.

  2. “Men may live together in society with some tolerable degree of security, though there is no civil magistrate to protect them from the injustice of those passions. But avarice and ambition in the rich, in the poor the hatred of labour and the love of present ease and enjoyment, are the passions which prompt to invade property, passions much more steady in their operation, and much more universal in their influence. Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions. It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labour of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security. He is at all times surrounded by unknown enemies, whom, though he never provoked, he can never appease, and from whose injustice he can be protected only by the powerful arm of the civil magistrate continually held up to chastise it. The acquisition of valuable and*23 extensive property, therefore, necessarily requires the establishment of civil government. Where there is no property, or at least none that exceeds the value of two or three days labour, civil government is not so necessary.”
    — Just wanted to post some Adam Smith that I thought was relevant.

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