Regardless of your perspective on the COVID-19 virus, one has to acknowledge that its impact on global economy is significant. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva recently called the pandemic the world’s “most pressing uncertainty.” Many other financial experts have openly predicted the impact will be more severe than the damage done by financial crisis in 2008.
As a basis for comparison, during the 2008 crisis the net worth of American households had declined by about $17 trillion in inflation-adjusted terms. Approximately 7.5 million jobs were lost between 2007 and 2009. House prices in USA fell by almost 32%. Globally the 2008 financial crisis cost the world at least $50 trillion. The expected impact of COVID-19 will be worse than the crisis in 2008.
While the pandemic has not produced any significant impact on migration policies of western countries in general, travellers and temporary residents including students and workers have been affected in the past few months. Some countries have temporarily suspected travel visas and delayed issuance of visas.
In the few months since COVID-19 first surfaced in China, there has been a surge of inquiries of migration from Asia. There is heightened fear of safety and awareness of health issues. In most cases, these inquiries were transitory; many were not eligible or distracted by other personal commitments.
In the past century, mass emigration occurred during wars and food shortage. Many left to seek a better life in foreign countries. Other mass emigrations in recent years have been due to potential change in government or political systems. Despite this repeated scenario in recent years, many people remain hesitant to migrate. I remember during the 1998 Indonesia riots, one businessman reasoned to me why he waited until the very last moments leave the country; there was still money to be made there. In my career as a visa officer, I have seen many successful business persons with prudent financial planning yet who are uninformed in planning for their children and future generations. For those who emigrated, the fact is most uprooted because of their children.
This pandemic perhaps serves as a reminder to those who yearn to give their dependants a better life or an opportunity to seriously re-examine their options. It is not about which country has a higher or lower COVID-19 cases. For example, one may argue that the actual cancer survival rate may be a more accurate indication of a country’s healthcare system. To state that the healthcare system in South Korea is not robust because of their high number of coronavirus cases is simplistic and oblivious. Similarly, countries like Japan and Australia do exceedingly well in many areas of healthcare rankings.
At the end of the day, it is all about which country will be able to provide a more secure environment and stable healthcare for your children in years to come. I call this “Generation Planning”. This maybe the time for many prospective emigrants to seriously inquire about their options and start preparing for their dependants and generations to come.
By M. Chong, CFE, PhD
Managing Director, Goodmove Consulting Pty Ltd
Note: Original article in English. This is the personal opinion of the author.