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Rebekah Smith is a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development, working with the migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy team. She is the founder and executive director of Labor Mobility Partnerships (LaMP), a new organization which incubated inside of CGD and which aims to facilitate the emergence of labor mobility systems at scale by brokering partnerships, offering technical support, and undertaking research and advocacy on labor mobility. Prior to her work on LaMP, Smith worked at the World Bank, building institutions in countries (sending, receiving and transit) to facilitate labor migration. Her recent work has focused on fragile and conflict afflicted states, providing technical assistance to government counterparts to strengthen capacity and systems to access international labor markets, with service delivery outsourced through performance-based contracts. She has a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a bachelor’s degree in economics and international studies from Ohio Wesleyan University.
The “just right” approach for the mobility of low-skill labor looks to avoid either “too hard”—expecting countries to make legally binding commitments to a global protocol—or “too soft”—no global mechanisms for reducing restrictions on labor mobility. We propose a “bundled” organization that works with existing bilateral labor agreements and partners as part of an organization capable of analysis and advocacy.
Our concluding message to young professionals and young people in general is this: engage with us. Tell us what you think is working in development, what isn’t, and why. You will help advance CGD’s mission to fight poverty through innovative, evidence-based policies by keeping the dialogues we foster energetic, fresh, and as inclusive as possible.
If more legal channels for labor mobility were opened, the incomes of developing country citizens could increase fourfold while global GDP could as much as double. These potential gains make labor mobility one of the most powerful tools for poverty alleviation currently on the current development agenda.