Should B. emigrate from England?

A request from a loyal blog reader. I attended a talk in Oxford by Martin Wolf from the FT a few months ago, in which he gave a very pessimistic assessment of prospects for the British and European economies. A member of the audience asked what his advice for a young graduate entering the job market would be, and his response was ’emigrate’.

So two requests, really:

(1) Do you agree?
(2) If so, where should I go?

To put things in context, I am a 21-year-old male, a final year student at Oxford University reading for a BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (concentrating on the latter two subjects). I have work experience in the financial sector, moderate language ability (high school level French and German, but a fast learner), and I am willing to consider a wide range of locations. I am an EU citizen, so obviously have freedom of movement within the EU. I am open to staying somewhere for a relatively long period, but at the moment I am more inclined to think of it as a below-ten-year stay. Assume, perhaps, the prospect of permanent residence is not excluded. Feel free to edit the request as appropriate for the blog.

I say:

1. The key data point is the polarization of labor market returns, including in the United Kingdom and much of Western Europe.  Given that your background and reading habits signal smarts and hard work, you probably will do fine staying at home.

2. Switching languages will set you back by years, even if you are a quick study.  Stick to the Anglo world, or to an English-speaking job at least.

3. It is not already obvious to B. that he should move to the United States.  That’s fine, so perhaps he quite likes England already and indeed who wouldn’t?  That lack of obsession with America also means he does not have a diehard commitment to maximizing pecuniary returns and that is yet further evidence he should stay in England.

4. If you want to travel and live abroad, try to start with an English multinational and then signal a willingness to move far afield.  Or consider the foreign service.  Or work for a year or two and then do a Jodi Ettenberg for as long as you can.  All of those options sound better to me than moving to Stuttgart and trying to master the intricacies of “dass ich nicht habe lachen mussen,” (or is it “dass ich habe nicht lachen mussen”?, or do they mean different things?) while petitioning the Knigge Society for a knowledge of manners.

5. “A man who is tired of London is tired of life.”


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