WCP: Deindustrialization, Depopulation, and the Refugee Crisis

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Although much of the discourse regarding the refugee crisis in the United States has focused on security concerns, the situation also has major economic implications. In this week’s Working-Class Perspective (new window), our Visiting Scholar John Russo argues that an influx of refugees can help revitalize local economies, particularly Rust Belt economies suffering from deindustrialization and a decline in population.

To understand the significance of depopulation in the Rust Belt, imagine that a plague hit the Midwest and four million people had vanished. What would be the economic consequences for the region, its institutions and for individuals? Deindustrialization has operated much like a plague, and just as with a plague, the long term social and economic costs are substantial. The region can’t “just get over it.” Deindustrialization, and the depopulation associated with it, continues to be a drag on the region both economically and socially.

Check out the blog post in its entirety (new window) as well as other Working-Class Perspectives (new window) posts on our website.

As our Visiting Scholar for the 2015-16 academic year, John Russo brings the Working-Class Perspectives blog to the Kalmanovitz Initiative. The blog is edited by John and Sherry Linkon, a professor of English at Georgetown University. It features several regular and guest contributors.