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October 2018, Volume 24, Number 4

Migration, Slavery, Poverty

The world is projected to add 2.2 billon people by 2050, including 1.3 billion in Africa. Many of these Africans may seek to emigrate, especially to Europe. European leaders are discussing plans to create centers in North Africa to intercept and return migrants headed to Europe, and to promote stay-at-home development with aid.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs attributes the rise of populist or nationalist political parties in rich countries to the decline of center-left political parties and their union allies, the declining power and influence of the US, and rising migration. Sachs in 2017 said: "A borderless world is plainly unrealistic. If people were told that they could move, no questions asked, probably a billion would shift around the planet within five years, with many coming to Europe or the U.S. No society would tolerate even a fraction of that flow."

Sachs criticized the center-left for being unwilling to call for limits on immigration, saying that "large-scale migration has far-reaching distributional consequences" that hurt workers similar to the migrants. Sachs says that "No rich country is under the obligation to open its doors to all of the economic migrants that would come."

Slavery. Australia's Walk Free Foundation developed a Global Slavery Index in 2013 to estimate the extent of modern slavery, including forced labor (25 million) and forced marriage or sexual exploitation (15 million). Walk Free in July 2018 estimated that 10 percent of the 25 million people in North Korea are in modern slavery; the next highest shares of slave labor were in Eritrea, Burundi, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan.

Globally, Walk Free estimated that 40 million people were in modern slavery in 2017, including 400,000 in the US. The US is also the largest importer of goods that Walk Free says are at risk of being produced with forced labor, including mobile phones, computers, clothing, fish, sugar and cocoa. The prevalence of modern slavery in Mexico was estimated at 2.7 per 1,000 residents, the same as Barbados and Colombia, yielding an estimated 341,000 victims among 126 million Mexican residents (the US rate was 1.3).

Poverty. The World Bank in September 2018 estimated that the number of people in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 a day or $700 a year, fell to 736 million in 2015. In 1990, over 1.9 million people lived on less than $1 a day. Over half of the extreme poor, 400 million, were in sub-Saharan Africa; seven million were in the rich industrial countries..

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had an estimated $150 billion in assets in August 2018, making him the world's richest person. John D. Rockefeller, the first dollar billionaire in 1916, would have $24 billion in wealth today. However, as a share of US GDP, Rockefeller's wealth would be $407 billion in today's dollars.

China. Chinese agriculture has fewer and larger farms as aging farmers rent their land to younger farmers who consolidate plots and farm them with modern equipment. China broke up communes in the 1980s, and in the mid-1990s secured the rights of farmers of ex-commune land so they could rent it to others.

Most Chinese farms are less than three acres. As aging farmers rent their land, others are amassing enough acreage to justify investments in tractors and harvesters. Villages are becoming retirement areas, as small farmers who grew up in them retire there rather than follow their children into cities.