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.

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