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Here is the text of our review of Colliers book on Amazon or if you prefer the link.

Exodus by Paul Collier is a well reasoned new look at international migration from a relatively restrictionist point of view. Collier argues that while some migration is probably a good thing there is a point at which it becomes too much. Immigration is a big issue and many people have made up their minds without considering the nuances that Collier discusses in Exodus. He shows, for instance, that diasporas are both a result of and a cause of migration. He creates a formula to predict future migration based on variables like, income gap, diaspora size and cultural difference and comes up with some surprising results. He also takes a long look at why some countries are successful and others are not. His conclusion: “Poor countries are poor because their social models are dysfunctional.”


The restrictionist view of immigration has become associated with nativism and nationalism. Collier from his chair at Oxford attempts to change that. He justifies restrictionism ethically by putting the rights of the indigenous people and/or the state ahead of the rights of those with the desire to migrate. And he justifies it economically by arguing that “economics should not be a very important criteria for determining immigration policy” because the effect is small for those writing the rules. These arguments are seductive but they didn't convince me or Lant Pritchett who wrote in Let Their People Come about the tremendous benefits that accrue to poor immigrants. And they won't convince Philippe Legrain who wrote in Immigrants, Your Country Needs Them that “freer international migration should be the next front in the battle for global economic justice.”


Collier argues that since large unassimilated diasporas are destructive to the social trust that makes successful societies work, we have to restrict immigration. The alternate argument that successful societies will be the ones that accept peoples right to migrate and then get very good at absorbing, integrating and assimilating new immigrants not given much consideration.


The weakness of Collier's position that we need to restrict immigration is demonstrated by his total lack of ability to say at what number the restriction should be placed. He likes the idea of a specific international target for foreign aid but is silent on what the target for international immigration should be. He makes a case that “some” immigration is a societal good but fails to quantify what “some” is.