Friday, August 18, 2006

Expanding the Pittsburgh Region

Net outmigration is a policy problem, and not just for Pittsburgh. Brain drain is a serious issue facing many developing countries. Remittances are one of the benefits of international emigration, but they hardly makes up for the lost human capital. However, the backward flow of money does suggest one way that the departed can help their homeland and serve as a regional or national asset. Might there be other ways to tap into the success of a diaspora?

A recent World Bank report, Diaspora Networks and the International Migration of Skills: How Countries Can Draw on Their Talent Abroad, suggests working with the migration flows, instead of trying to stem the tide. Part of the report is available online. Pittsburgh might learn a useful thing or two from international migration scholars:

Expatriates do not need to be investors or make financial contributions to have an impact on their home countries. They can serve as "bridges" by providing access to markets, sources of investment, and expertise. Influential members of diasporas can shape public debate, articulate reform plans, and help implement reforms and new projects. Policy expertise and managerial and marketing knowledge are the most significant resources of diaspora networks. The overarching focus on the knowledge and policy contributions of expatriates and diaspora networks distinguish this book from a rapidly growing literature on international migration.
Just because a number of Pittsburghers have left does not mean that they can no longer help the region. These expatriates are cultivating networks in various economic hotspots all over the United States. They also tend to be unabashed boosters of Pittsburgh, though most of their co-workers are likely tired of Steelers talk. If you are looking for a spark for Pittsburgh's next renaissance, start your search outside of the region.


Jim Russell said...

The average displaced-burgher needs some help.

We are two people who would help Pittburgh. Imagine the power of the 2000 displaced-burghers talking about the problems back home.

I'm writing about diaspora networks, leveraging the human capital of connections. The diaspora needs an avenue to affect change in Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh needs a way to tap into the assets of the diaspora.

The solution is simple. We need to think about the Pittsburgh region in terms of people and identity, instead of as a place on a map.

John Morris said...

Yes, it's a lot about state of mind. I knew quite a lot of people that are members of the Irish Diaspora. Many were recent imigrants and in the arts. A lot now spend time in both NY, Ireland and the rest of Europe. But in terms of conections and stuff everything loops back to Ireland.

I also think that just staying in touch with people here and sharing a different perspective is vital. Too many of the decisions made here seem to be made by people who have little knowledge of the world outside Pittsburgh.

One big advantage of not living in this little fish bowl is that you can speak your mind more freely.