Why Expats/Immigrants Are the Driving Force Of Today’s Global Economy

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We should be the pro-legal immigration party. A party that has a positive platform and agenda on how we can create a legal immigration system that works for immigrants and works for America”-Marco Rubio

In today’s world, economies are no longer insulated within the legal borders of nations. We live in a truly globalized world, and every nation’s financial future is tied into the global economy. This is partly due to advances in technology as well as an increase in immigration. As Kofi Annan said once: “It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity.”

It was inevitable we would reach this point, and although some disagree, globalization is a vital part of every nation’s economy. Expatriates contribute greatly to the economies of the nation’s they settle in for a number of reasons. They not only offer new and interesting perspectives on trade and diplomacy, but they fill important gaps in aging and unskilled workforces.

Filling the Skill Gap

The Chief Human Resources Officer of Digi, a Malaysia-based communications company, Haroon Bhatti knows the benefits of hiring expats quite well. He recently told HumanResourcesOnline.net:

More than merit, when it comes to expatriates, we are clear that it is to fill a needed skill gap. This helps us keep a check and balance of our talent pool within the organization on the types of capabilities and diversity of experience brought into the mix. Strong economies thrive on diversity; a diverse pool of expertise and experience means bringing best practices from around the world not just into Digi, but contributing to Malaysia and its economy…”-Haroon Bhatti

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Image Sources: Gcp Blog

Mr. Bhatti’s comments not only ring true for the Malaysian economy, but they can also be applied to every other nation on the planet. Diversity of opinion and perspectives is huge in any major business setting, and a diversity of skill sets is even more vital to the financial success of an economy.

820,000 International Students Enrolled In U.S Colleges

A 2013 survey by the Institute of International Education revealed there were nearly 820,000 international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the US. Most of those students were studying in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related fields that are vital to a competitive economy in today’s high-tech economic climate.

The survey also revealed that more than half of the master’s and PhD students in STEM fields in the United States are foreign-born. By comparison, the number of native-born American students enrolled in STEM courses of study is growing at a rate of less than one percent per year.

Related Content: Who Are The Most Successful International Students In The US?

The United States must embrace expat students if it hopes to be economically competitive in the future. It is estimated that by 2018, there will be 230,000 open positions in STEM fields. That is, if every currently enrolled student finds a job after graduation. Without contributions from expats, the U.S. economy would find itself in a dire situation, and as a result the world economy would suffer as well.

Filling the Age Gap

Many western nations have rapidly aging populations. This is a result of extremely low birthrates, and will continue to get worse if they are not willing to accept new skilled and unskilled laborers into the workforce. These same nations are suffering from crumbling infrastructures and they need people to repair these structures to avoid a slow burning national crisis. This is why it’s troubling that many people in the West have taken such a xenophobic stance against expats and immigration in any form.

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Image Source: Knack

The Word Bank and International Monetary Fund released a report earlier this month titled “Development Goals in an Era of Demographic Change which argues that the recent rapid migration into the West can serve as a boon to those nation’s economies and the world economy at large. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim issued a statement to coincide with the report: 

With the right set of policies, this era of demographic change can be an engine of economic growth… If countries with aging populations can create a path for refugees and migrants to participate in the economy, everyone benefits. The evidence suggests that migrants will work hard and contribute more in taxes than they consume in social services.”

In light of this report, Western politicians on the right of the political spectrum must realize their economies will be doomed without the contributions of expats. For their nations to be profitable, they must bring in large quantities of foreign-born individuals to do the work that their citizenry is unwilling or unable to do.

The Expat Contribution To Trade And Diplomacy

White collar expats are just as important as blue collar expats. They just fill different yet equally vital roles in the economies of the nations they join. Tens of thousands of expats work for major corporations in international positions throughout the world. Multinational corporations know the benefits of hiring foreign-born executives and managers, and they do so quite often.

Expats help companies reduce the costs of exporting and importing services and goods to and from their home country by assisting them in dealing with institutional and cultural barriers. They can often make business deals more expensive or cancel them altogether. Providing services abroad can sometimes require an intimate knowledge of a nation’s cultures and customs. Specifically, as not to offend them or violate any rules or regulations they have in place. Expats can easily solve this problem for a domestic company doing business in their country of origin.

Expats Have A Deep Cultural Insight Many Experts Lack

Basically, expats have a deeper cultural knowledge than any expert. In relation to cultural knowledge, expats know a lot more than experts will ever learn in a lifetime. Culture is not something they absorbed through an intense research. It’s just part of them.

Expats understand foreign markets. They bring a global understanding that someone who has not lived in multiple cultures cannot hope to match. In addition, they can eliminate the need to import services at all. For example, if a company needs to have a service provided by someone in another country because the skill set required to perform that service is unique to that culture. By hiring a competent expat, they cut out the middleman and potentially save money.

This same logic applies to diplomacy. There is a reason that the U.S. State Department is filled with expats. Today, governments operate as large international corporations. They may not always be trading in goods and services, but they trade other things like knowledge and intelligence. Expats have a unique perspective and expertise that is of vital importance to a nation’s diplomacy.

A nation’s borders are not as important as they were in years past. The world is now a global community and a nation will not survive economically if it remains in isolation. This is the time for expats to shine, as they are the true driving force behind the world economy today and will only continue to take on a more vital role in the future as national borders disappear and globalization goes into full effect.


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XpatNation is a Social News and Lifestyle magazine, focusing on the insights and experiences on ex-patriots living in The United States.

XpatNation brings together the voices, thoughts, perceptions and experiences of the people of the world who have made the USA their home. Using their insight and unique understanding of the global world we live in to discuss culture, lifestyle, Geo politics and the day to day on-goings of this proud and powerful nation.

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