Genealogy and Creating Historical Economics Through Immigration

There is nothing so moving as to going to Ellis Island in New York and seeing your grandmother’s name engraved in the plaques that represented immigrants that came into the United States. My mother was only 3 years old at the time and it wouldn’t be for another 3 years until my grandmother was able to send for her and her brothers.

Genealogy one thousand years ago was probably very simple. People generally were born, raised, married, raised their family then died in the same locale. Genealogy is the study of one’s family lineage.

When people started to move and I mean really move, things changed substantially. This is where we address immigration. Immigration is when someone moves from one country to another. Immigration is what has built all nations. We tend to think only in today’s terms. Thousands and thousands of years ago, the immigrants came to the Americas by way of a land bridge by the Bering Sea. The remains of this land bridge are the Aleutian Islands that are a part of Alaska. These people became the Native Americans whose descendants met the European explorers 500 years ago.

Immigration is what built countries like the United States, Canada and Australia in the last 5 centuries. People left their homelands to find a new start for economic and social reasons. Often, they were escaping from something, such as religious persecution, or running to something such as employment opportunities. Whatever the reason, we have become such a mobile society that not even our own National Heritage can keep us home.

My grandmother left her home to find a new start. She and her husband owned an island. Her husband had been fatally injured when he pushed a horse off of himself that had fallen in a rainstorm. After his death, my grandmother felt her home no longer had anything to offer her. She decided to immigrate to America for a new start. She sent for her children 3 years later and raised them as Americans. Her grandchildren became first generation Americans.

A lot has changed since the 1920’s but immigration continues to provide people new hope in a new country. The immigration laws have changed and there is constant debate to change them further. Some immigration laws in countries such as Germany are so tight that you can’t immigrate there unless you already have a job. Even then, there are restrictions for hiring non-German workers. Many countries have highly restrictive immigration laws to control the numbers of immigrants coming into their country. The biggest exception to this is immigration permits (whether permanent or temporary) for highly skilled or professional workers.

The affect of this is what we refer to as the “Brain Drain”. In the United States, the number of temporary work permits issued on a yearly basis was recently raised to nearly 200,000. This has become an issue in many countries that invest in an individual’s education only to lose them to another country. Often, the individual feels they would have more opportunities and/or freedom if they moved to a more economically advanced country. They would surely miss their homeland but they feel they have so much more to offer their family. One of the greatest examples of “Brain Drain” is the start of America’s aerospace industry right after World War II from the German rocket engineers.

These problems are occurring day to day throughout developed nations. Recently in Europe, there was a major immigration into Ireland because of their “Celtic Tiger” economy. One of the European countries alone lost 100,000 of their most educated citizens to Ireland because of the favorable economic conditions. During the Celtic Tiger economy, the Irish flourished and their economy grew each year by 5% or more.

Genealogy is a very interesting field of study. Not only does genealogy help you to discover your heritage but it is also a map of history. There is a lot that can be determined from the study including histories of immigration. You also find relatives you didn’t know you had. Where does your family fit into the puzzle that built the country you now live in and how has it affected those countries you descended from?

The migration and immigration issues are more significant today when we look into the “Brain Drain” economics. To understand this better, a quick reference to this link is in order: http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?id=324

To see how this concept can affect a particular country, let’s take a look at the change of the Irish economy since the late 1990’s. Here is a link that addresses Brain Drain followed by a link that addresses the change as it relates to industry changes:
http://www.workinfo.com/EconHist/ireland.htm
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/12/11/60II/main256404.shtml

If you are interested in following your own family history or immigration and learning more about where you came from, you might want to the website: Geneology.com (http://www.genealogy.com/index_n.html) There is a cost involved but they do offer you a 14 day free trial.

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