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Nationalism, Immigration, and Economic Success

There can be no question that immigration provides a net economic benefit to advanced economies, particularly those experiencing a retirement boom. But as long as anti-immigrant sentiment dictates the political narrative, growth will suffer, and resurgent populist forces will grow stronger.

CAMBRIDGE – One of the central challenges facing the world’s advanced economies is slowing growth. Over the last decade, growth rates in the advanced economies have averaged 1.2%, down from an average of 3.1% during the previous 25 years.

History shows that slower economic growth can make societies less generous, less tolerant, and less inclusive. So, it stands to reason that the past decade of sluggish growth has contributed to the surge of a damaging form of populist nationalism that is taking hold in a growing number of countries.

As in the darker decades of the twentieth century, today’s nationalism takes the form of heightened opposition to immigration and – to a lesser degree – free trade. Making matters worse, today’s toxic nationalism will exacerbate the economic slowdown that fueled its emergence.

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