Migration’s Local Dividends: How Cities and Regions Can Make the Most of Immigration (Transatlantic Council Statement)
Well-managed immigration can be a windfall for local economies by creating jobs and fueling growth, fostering innovation, and bringing in new revenue. But these benefits are neither automatic nor do they accrue evenly. Highly skilled and entrepreneurial migrants tend to flock to certain geographic “magnets”—such as vibrant metropolises, financial hubs, or tech clusters—while other regions may struggle to attract and retain native and foreign workers alike.
Meanwhile, increasing mobility has brought new challenges, which are also asymmetrically distributed. And many cities, even those experiencing new dynamism and growth, have to contend with community tensions arising over the allocation of often scarce public resources such as housing, social welfare, and health services, as well as difficult-to-address problems of poverty, residential segregation, and social exclusion.
While cities and regions experience both the positive and negative effects of immigration firsthand, they are typically at arm’s length, at best, from the policy reins that enable and shape these movements. Immigration policies are rarely calibrated to regional, let alone local, needs.
This Council Statement from the 11th plenary meeting of the MPI-convened Transatlantic Council on Migration examines how policymakers at all levels can work together to get more out of immigration. The Statement launches a series of reports from the Council’s meeting on the topic “Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration’s Local Dividends.” The series examines place-based immigration and entrepreneurship policies, city attractiveness, social cohesion, and means to build inclusive cities.
As outlined in the Council Statement, the Council settled on four principles for better multilevel governance of migration:
- Give local actors a seat at the table. National governments should be mindful of the needs and concerns of regions and localities with regard to immigration and give such subnational jurisdictions a place at the table on issues that affect their interests.
- Institutionalize systems for cooperation. Migration questions demand whole-of-government and whole-of society solutions; better systems for national-local cooperation and private-sector involvement are the missing ingredients.
- Learn from the local level and deliver sustainable funding for what works. Since innovative programs often terminate prematurely when funding runs out, central government can play a critical role in consolidating lessons from localities and scaling up creative solutions.
- Create rapid-response systems for concentrated challenges. The effects of geopolitical conflict or new trends in mobility tend to first materialize in small pockets (whether in congested processing centers or schools). Emergency funding and targeted support could alleviate these symptoms and buy national governments time to address the larger causes behind these trends.
I. Meeting Regional Human Capital Needs
A. Human Capital: The Fuel of Regional Development
B. Regional Immigration Policies: A Solution?
II. Addressing Immigration’s Local Challenges
A. Diversity and Mobility: Twin Challenges in Public Service Delivery
B. Capitalizing on the Comparative Advantage of the Local