Environment: Making it better wherever you are
Empathy is Good for the Economy
Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries putting their system changing ideas into practice on a global scale. Founded by Bill Drayton in 1980, Ashoka has provided start-up financing, professional support services, and connections to a global network across the business and social sectors, and a platform for people dedicated to changing the world. Ashoka launched the field of social entrepreneurship and has activated multi-sector partners across the world who increasingly look to entrepreneurial talent and new ideas to solve social problems.
David Lubell is an Ashoka Fellow with a powerful idea - to use empathy to help communities understand the value of having a welcoming attitude toward immigrants. You can read more about his idea here.
Last month, Forbes ran an article written by Lubell entitled, Welcoming Immigrants: Why Empathy Is Smart Economics For Cities. He discusses the social, civic and economic value of welcoming immigrants to your town. Here is an excerpt:
Research demonstrates the important role immigrants play in local economies across the nation. According to a Brookings study, they are 30% more likely to start a business compared to their U.S.-born counterparts. Not only do immigrants create jobs as natural entrepreneurs, but research shows that immigrants also contribute to local housing values—they tend to gravitate towards affordable neighborhoods that have fallen out of favor and often revitalize areas in decline. According to a report by Partnership for a New American Economy, “By keeping properties on the tax rolls, immigrants support local government. By moving into once-vacant homes, they help reduce crime.” Thus, “immigrants can simultaneously boost housing prices in some areas while easing housing affordability problems elsewhere.”
By lifting up declining neighborhoods, starting businesses, and creating jobs, immigrants enrich their adopted hometowns in ways that create a positive magnetic effect for those communities. According to a report by Americas Society/Council of the Americas, because immigrants tend to make communities more attractive through greater demand for businesses and preservation of jobs in industries such as manufacturing, for every 1,000 immigrants that arrive to a county, 270 U.S.-born residents move there in response.
Creating an environment that is friendly toward immigrants is both a matter of human decency and smart economics. A welcoming city is more likely to thrive, thus illustrating the “empathy imperative”—the critical importance of empathy within communities today. A person who is welcoming to another resident shows active empathy—the kind that involves concrete steps on behalf of the “welcomer” to help make the resident’s journey smoother. In this way, the empathy imperative is a powerful economic driver that also makes a city a more vibrant, inclusive, and pleasant place to live.