Should We Hate or Love MIRAB?

Poirine, Bernard
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University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Bertram and Watters defined the mirab model (Migration, Remittances, Aid, and Bureaucracy) as a development process where remittances and foreign aid are the main resources of small island economies. Bertram suggested that it is a perfectly “sustainable” development strategy, as long as the “rent” from remittances and international aid continues. But there is a great reluctance on the part of officials and economists to accept the model as valid and sustainable. To them, it does not seem right to live off international aid and migrant remittances. A favorable case can be made for mirab. Pacific Island peoples and governments should not feel guilty about accepting aid and remittances, because such “external resources” may be seen as representing revenues from invisible exports to industrialized countries. By exporting labor and geostrategic services, small Pacific Island states make the best use of the only comparative advantage they may have in international trade. Donor countries and migrant host countries also gain from this arrangement. In this paper, I look at reasons why some people hate mirab, then show why everyone should love mirab.
aid, migration, remittances, small island states, sustainable development
Poirine, B. 1998. Should We Hate or Love MIRAB? The Contemporary Pacific 10 (1): 65-105.
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