The great migration: global citizens and their place in the supply-demand economy

Parag Khanna

More than one billion people cross borders each year. Parag Khanna writes on the rise of the Independent Republic of the Supply Chain - an explosion of global citizens whose identity is tied into their journey, rather than their country of origin.

In generations past, people moved. Now they circulate. Migration today is more than permanent, one-directional relocation: it is a constant flux of multidirectional flows. Taken together, there are more migrant workers, overseas expatriates, political and environmental refugees and trafficked people than ever in history. The supply– demand world is one where people circulate as much as goods and services.

For millennia, most people never wandered far from where they were born. Until the past few decades, voluntary international travel for business or leisure was limited to the 1% elite of any society. Today, by contrast, more than one billion people cross borders each year. The number of international tourists is soaring to new heights on the back of outbound Asians. Hong Kong-based investment group CLSA predicts that 200 million Chinese will travel abroad annually by 2020. The number of cruise-ship passengers has more than doubled every decade, reaching 17 million in 2010.