Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The influence of values vs. remittance

From "Migrant Power," The Economist, Jan. 16

As migration changes, shorter-term movements will bring migrants home with wealth accumulated abroad and human capital in the form of knowledge and new institutional norms that can improve domestic life. The American experience suggests that, for all the fears that Mexican culture is overwhelming the domestic variety, the influence is more likely to go the other way. Tyler Cowen, an economist who does field work in Mexico, points out that American influences—whether consumer tastes, a greater inclination to give to charity or more enthusiasm for democracy—are stronger there than anywhere else in Latin America. The spread of values, in other words, may be just as influential as the remittance of cash.

Emphasis is my own. This is an interesting way to look at temporary labourers. I've never perceived them as being potential ambassadors of American goods and values.
FYI: did you know that if you use an RSS to access The Economist, you're a click away from free content -- including the premium content that isn't accessible to non-subscribers on the magazine's Web page? Perhaps this is a temporary glitch.


amphimacer said...

Two comments:

1. The culture shifts are bound to go both ways; I think that people will embrace cultures they associate with success, and cultures that succeed will succeed because they offer something of value. We eat the foods our immigrants have brought here because those foods are interesting additions to our diet, and they have chosen our country because it has good qualities they value.

2. If your new "format" -- that is, more links, less of your own voice -- keeps you blogging, it works fine for me, as a reader, as long as you do stick in your own two cents' worth. As you know from previous correspondence, I will disagree with you regularly, but I do so with respect and interest.

true dough said...

1. Exactly! Good point. I simply found it odd how The Economist compares remittance to the spread of values. Yes, globalization spreads values; it’s a phenomenon that has all sorts of impacts on countries and it flows in many directions, as you suggest. How any of these flows can be calculated, much less compared to remittance payments, seems strange. Imagine, 300 Mexicans brought Herbal Essence home with them, so remittance payments of X amount are okay. I understand the article's point, but it seems like a useless calculation plagued by omissions. Maybe I should read Cowen’s work before I spout off.

2. “I will disagree with you regularly, but I do so with respect and interest.”

Ha! Well, thanks. I really enjoy being challenged. Actually, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy the blogosphere— to gain perspectives and ideas from others. I didn’t intend to slow down my blogging this much, but I’m not having a fun winter. Please keep leaving your comments, even if I’m Charlie and your Lucy, as you once said. :)

Ken Houghton said...

I thought The Economist shifted to making the magazine's content free to all a few months ago?

true dough said...

I probably could have written more clearly. You're right that The Economist made its MAGAZINE content free, but they release around 3-5 articles on a daily basis under the header " News Analysis," none of which is available for free if you run a search for them on The Economist web page (they'll appear aside a premium content icon); however, I can access all of them as long as I link from my "News Analysis" RSS feed. Eg: an hour ago my RSS coughed up an article called "Tales from the Crypt," yet the web page says its restricted. Or, perhaps I'm doing something wrong?