Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Worker immigrants send money back to families in "old countries"


Today (Tuesday Sept. 4. 2007) The Washington Times (on page A1 print) ran an AP story by William Kole, “Remittances aid Families back in the old countries: Immigrants sent home $275 billion in 2006”.

The story can be interpreted in many contexts. There is the brain drain concern, and a security concern that money can be laundered through hawalas. But the cultural motive is what stands out. Most cultures from the “non West” (including Muslim cultures) exhibit greater tribe and blood loyalty than is commonly expected in the US, in Britain and Commonwealth countries, and in Western Europe in general. It is common and expected in these cultures for breadwinners to send money back, not just to wives and children, but to extended family members, especially parents. In “advanced countries” filial responsibility is an underground controversy, respected by many but not yet talked about much by politicians (even conservative ones). In Poland, anti-gay government officials warned that Europe was under threat from alien cultures that “protect their families” by having more children. In the news story, some of the “old countries” were former communist countries like Albania.

The demographics of all this is getting noticed more, like by author Bruce Bawer in his recent book “While Europe Slept.” The family values thing certain relates to assimilation.

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