Millions Leave Native Lands, With Broad Repercussions

Jan 15, 16 Millions Leave Native Lands, With Broad Repercussions

UNITED NATIONS — Humanity is on the move, but we are traipsing across the globe a bit less than you might think.

According to the latest United Nations estimates, 244 million people, or 3.3 percent of the world’s population, live in a country other than the one where they were born. Their ranks are growing at a faster pace than the world population as a whole, with enormous economic, social and demographic repercussions for their native and adopted countries.

However, they are concentrated in just 20 countries. By far, the most popular destination in 2015 was the United States, followed by Germany, Russia and Saudi Arabia. But the ranking should not be viewed as a popularity contest. Saudi Arabia shows up because it hosts an enormous number of migrant workers, not immigrants who resettle, as in the United States.

The United Nations report does not distinguish between who migrates with legal papers and who does not. Among the migrants worldwide are 20 million refugees — those who have fled war or persecution in their home countries.

Indians make up the largest diaspora: 16 million Indians are scattered across the world, which partly reflects the country’s demographic size (1.2 billion) and youth (median age is around 26).

The effect can be enormous. Many migrants send home remittances, and in some countries that far exceeds what their governments take in traditional donor aid.

Migrants tend to be mostly young, working-age people, which can be a boon to countries like those in Europe where the native population is swiftly aging. Africans and Asians tend to be the youngest of migrants.

Migration can also roil domestic politics in the receiving countries, as the presidential campaign in the United States has already demonstrated, especially when it comes to the issue of Mexican migrants.

After India, Mexico has the second largest diaspora, with 12 million living abroad, the majority of them in the United States.

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U.N. to Help U.S. Screen Central American Migrant

Jan 15, 16 U.N. to Help U.S. Screen Central American Migrant

The Obama administration is turning to the United Nations to help screen migrants fleeing violence in Central America, senior administration officials said Tuesday, and to help set up processing centers in several Latin American countries in the hopes of stemming a flood of families crossing the southern border illegally.

Designed to head off migrants from three violence-torn countries in the region before they start traveling to the United States, the new refugee resettlement program will be announced by Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday in Washington. Under the plan, the United Nations refugee agency will work with the United States to set up processing centers in several nearby countries, where migrants would be temporarily out of danger.

As it does in other places, the United Nations will determine if the migrants could be eligible for refugee status. The administration officials said thousands — perhaps as many as 9,000 — migrants each year from the three countries, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, could eventually settle in the United States. But some refugees would also be sent to other countries in the hemisphere, officials said.


“The administration needs to go in a different direction,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, said at a news conference on Tuesday. Credit Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

The new program comes amid a furious reaction by Democratic lawmakers and advocates for immigrants to a series of arrests during the holiday season in which women and children from Central America were rounded up for deportation after they failed to win asylum.

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Why Helping Others Makes Us Happy

Jan 15, 16 Why Helping Others Makes Us Happy

The following article comes from the U.S. News ebook, How to Live to 100, which is now available for purchase.

Helping our fellow man has long been seen as an altruistic behavioral model. But it turns out that more selfish motives—pleasing friends, doing what you want—are more successful causes of effective volunteering. Whatever the motive, volunteering improves the health, happiness, and in some cases, the longevity of volunteers. Children who volunteer are more likely to grow up to be adults who volunteer. Even unwilling children who are forced to volunteer fare better than kids who don’t volunteer. And in a virtuous circle, communities with lots of volunteers are more stable and better places to live, which in turn further boosts volunteerism.

[See the Top 10 U.S. Cities for Well-Being.]

“On one hand, it’s striking that volunteering even occurs,” says Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota. “It seems to run against the strong dynamics of self-interest. There is simply nothing in society that says that someone is mandated to help anyone else.” Yet 1 in 3 adults do meaningful volunteer work on a sustained basis, he notes, and the United States has one of the world’s highest rates of volunteerism.

“People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness,” Snyder says. “All of these things go up as their feelings of social connectedness goes up, which in reality, it does. It also improves their health and even their longevity.”

Among teenagers, even at-risk children who volunteer reap big benefits, according to research findings studied by Jane Allyn Piliavin, a retired University of Wisconsin sociologist. She cites a positive effect on grades, self-concept, and attitudes toward education. Volunteering also led to reduced drug use and huge declines in dropout rates and teen pregnancies.

Other research links youth volunteering to a higher quality of life as an adult, Piliavin adds. “Participating in high school tends to boost participating in adulthood, which is related to enhanced well-being.” One clear message from this for parents: Get your children involved in community volunteer programs.

Most people say they value volunteering because it’s “the right thing to do,” among other altruistic reasons. But the strongest drivers of successful volunteers are actually more self-focused, notes Allen Omoto, a professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif. There are five main reasons people volunteer, he says.

Three are “self-focused”:

1. Understanding: the desire to learn new things and acquire knowledge.

2. Esteem enhancement: feeling better about yourself and finding greater stability in life.

3. Personal development: acquiring new skills, testing your capabilities, and stretching yourself.

Two are “other-focused”:

4. Sense of community: making the world, or your piece of it, better.

5. Humanitarian values: serving and helping others, often with a strong religious component.

“The ones that get the higher rates of endorsement are the ‘other focused’ ones,” Omoto says. “But it’s the ‘self-focused’ ones that predict length of service.” Snyder also says people who don’t volunteer often have an idealized view of people who do. “They put them up on a pedestal,” he says. This might actually deter people from volunteering because they feel they don’t measure up.

The benefits of volunteering are linked to a person’s degree of commitment. “It’s clear that more is better, at least up a point,” Piliavin says. “Some studies find an inflection point and others don’t. One study finds the benefits increase up to the point where a person has volunteered 100 hours during a year.” Consistency is also important. “The more consistently you do it, the better your psychology benefits,” she says.

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