Wednesday 7 December 2016

We have a lot to gain by bringing our emigrants back home

Published 05/04/2015 | 02:30

OUTWARD BOUND: A 19th century poster depicting a man leaving Dublin (Custom House in the background) for the USA
OUTWARD BOUND: A 19th century poster depicting a man leaving Dublin (Custom House in the background) for the USA

Migration is a hot topic in many developed countries. It was a hot topic in the lead-up to the creation of Europe's single currency because most economists believed that more migration within the euro area would be needed to make the project work well.

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They believed that because migration can work as a sort of shock absorber or safety valve, much as the conventional wisdom in Ireland has long held that high and persistent outward migration contained the political costs of economic underperformance.

In big economies, such as the eurozone and the US, different regions will inevitably perform very differently over time. In the most extreme case, one region could suffer a depression - owing, for instance, to the collapse of an industry upon which it is dependent - while the rest of the currency bloc could be growing nicely. As the central bank would not cut interest rates to suit one region and risk overheating the rest of the economy, the area in a slump would endure a too-tight monetary policy.

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