Monday, December 11, 2006

England Takes First Look at its Diaspora

The United Kingdom is auditing its diaspora. The great outmigration has gone unnoticed thanks to strong immigration, until now. The British Institute for Public Policy Research published a report that concludes "large scale movements in and out present some important opportunities for the UK as well as challenges for policymakers." The BBC takes a closer look at the British Diaspora phenomenon:

Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, co-author of the report, said that the scale and spread of the British expat diaspora was probably being driven by the UK's economic strength.

A strong economy was attracting economic immigrants - but also encouraging Brits to broaden their opportunities.

"Britain is truly at the crossroads of the global movement of people," said Dr Sriskandarajah.

"Two-thirds of Britons who leave do so to seek employment abroad - and are replaced by skilled professionals from elsewhere in the world.

"When the going is good, Brits get going."

Ironically, significant outmigration is characterized as an indicator of a strong economy. That wasn't the case for Pittsburgh during the 1980s, but the best and the brightest were (and are) the most able to seek better opportunities elsewhere. The crux of the problem is that many Western Pennsylvania towns and cities are unwilling to cultivate immigration flows.

Regardless, the Institute's report on the British Diaspora is another example of a public policy direction Pittsburgh should mimic. The Burgh Diaspora deserves more study and Pittsburgh should endeavor to formalize the migration flow and emerging network.


tannybrown said...

To what do you attribute the anti-immigrant stance in Pittsburgh? The city's had periods of population growth, so it's not as though the older generations in Pittsburgh are unaccustomed to immigrants. I don't get it.

Jim Russell said...

I think Pittsburgh is exceptionally parochial and insular. Over the last few decades, relatively few people left Pittsburgh and relatively few people came to Pittsburgh.

No place is particularly welcoming to outsiders. Outsiders are tolerant of other outsiders. Through the years, Pittsburgh's demographics became dominated by locals.

The exception to the economic imperative of migration, is a social network, AKA chain migration.

When Pittsburghers left the region, they tended to go where their friends and family went. Unfortunately, there is little to no network in Pittsburgh to encourage a reverse flow.