In this episode of the McKinsey Global Institute’s Forward Thinking podcast, co-host Janet Bush talks with economist Dany Bahar. He is an associate professor of practice of international and public affairs at Brown University’s Watson Institute and a senior fellow of the Growth Lab at the Harvard Center for International Development. He’s also a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Center for Global Development. Two themes stand out in his work: the diffusion of technology and knowledge, and migration. In this podcast, Bahar covers topics including the following:
- Why some countries are rich and some are poor
- The role of people on the move in spreading knowledge and raising productivity
- The opportunity of Ukraine’s refugee diaspora
- How companies can reap rewards by integrating migrants
Janet Bush (co-host): Michael, do you know anything about the Franschhoek Valley in South Africa?
Michael Chui (co-host): Isn’t that part of the wine country there?
Janet Bush: Yes, and the history behind that is fascinating. That wine expertise came to South Africa with French Huguenot refugees expelled from France in the 17th century. This is just one example of how migration can spread knowledge and know-how around the world that our guest today discusses.
Michael Chui: Yes, there is certainly a great deal of evidence that immigrants are vital in the transfer of technological knowledge and innovation. I look forward to hearing more.
Janet Bush: Welcome to our podcast, Dany.
Dany Bahar: Thanks. Thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be here.
Janet Bush: I’d like to explore a little bit about your background and your education. I was interested to read that you describe yourself as Venezuelan and Israeli, so tell us more about that.
Dany Bahar: I’m a dual citizen. I have both citizenships. I was born and raised in Venezuela. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. They were refugees, and they ended up in Venezuela, one of the few countries in the world at that time that really had some sort of open-door migration policy.
Being raised within the context of the Jewish community, having a Jewish background, I also felt a connection with Israel, the country, and I decided to immigrate myself. Then I moved to the US to complete graduate studies. I’ve been moving quite a bit.
Janet Bush: You really are a citizen of the world.
Dany Bahar: Hopefully. If there was such a passport, I would definitely be in line to take it.
Janet Bush: Your first degree was in systems engineering, but then you studied economics. What drew you to economics? I was thinking it’s a kind of system engineering?
Dany Bahar: That’s a great question. All of us, when we go to college, it’s a really tough decision to make: what is it that you want to do the rest of your life? I went that route because I felt, for not very deep reasons, I wanted to be an engineer.
There was not such a variety of things to study in Venezuela. And I was good with computers, so I went that way. That gave me a lot of math and a lot of coding experience. And that definitely played a role in helping me to become an economist.
At that point, when I decided to go to grad school, I was really between being a political scientist or an economist. I had a conversation with somebody who became a really important mentor in my career later on who told me, “You know, you’ve had so much math as an engineer. Why don’t you go for economics, and you’ll be able to apply a lot of the quantitative methods and so on?” So I did.
It really helped me, I think, to see things from a different perspective. So I kind of agree with your premise there.
Janet Bush: It’s obvious you love economics. In case our listeners don’t know, you run your own podcast called Economists on Zoom getting coffee. That was a great title. What do you enjoy about running a podcast and actually talking about economics?
Dany Bahar: It was my COVID baby—to do something where some people were looking for or getting more into social media and maybe listening to things. So I decided that there was a space for trying to bring in a network of academic economists that I’ve been in touch with, since I’m one of them, and try to translate their findings to the general audience and the actual implications for policy and also for just public conversations. And it’s been fascinating. It’s in its second season. Thanks for the shout-out. I invite everybody to take a listen.
Janet Bush: It’s interesting, because I just heard, in Britain, a new podcast explaining economics is coming. And I was thinking, yeah, I mean, turbulent times. Everybody wants to understand what the hell is going on, you know?
Dany Bahar: Exactly. It’s very hard to explain, but I think it’s good to try and get as many different perspectives as one can.
Janet Bush: Well, it is pretty fundamental to everything, I think. You describe your research as sitting at the intersection of international economics and economic development. What do you mean by that?
Dany Bahar: I think the most fundamental question in economics, if not in science at large, is, “Why is it that some countries are rich and some countries are poor?” We don’t really have the one answer to that. That question started with the rise of economics as a science, Adam Smith in the late 1700s. That was one of the fundamental questions he wrote about in The wealth of nations.
There’s a whole lot of theories and a lot of empirical work that looks at very different components of this question. And probably the answer is a few different things. But one of them that is no less important is really what’s happening overall in the international economy. Today and for the past decades, even at different rates, a lot of what engages a country, whether they’re emerging economies or rich economies, they’re all, in some way or form, interacting with the rest of the world, through trade, through capital flows, and, of course, through migration, which is a topic that I’ve been focusing on quite a bit.
I think that that reflects the fact that I’m really looking at how these international flows are really affecting and perhaps a driver of development for the countries that are on that route to become richer.
Janet Bush: This is interesting. We published, late last year, a huge report called Pixels of progress, which identified pockets of wealth and poverty all around the world but also even within countries, just to map it, to try and get to those factors that create wealth or don’t create wealth.
Dany Bahar: Fascinating. Yes. As you said, a lot of it is cross-country. A lot of it is also within countries—regions are very different. A lot of those frameworks can, to some extent, be applied to within-country dynamics. But it’s a little bit of the idea that there’s a lot of complexities around. It’s not only what a government can do within its jurisdiction, but it’s also what’s happening generally with the flows that are part of the global economy.
Janet Bush: I think I know the answer to this question, but I was going to ask you: you focus on two big themes in your work. One is technology and knowledge diffusion, and one is migration. And, of course, now knowing a little bit more about your background, I can see where your interest has come from. But tell us why those two themes.
Dany Bahar: I do have to say it was by accident. I don’t think I went into academia knowing that I wanted to become a migration scholar. But maybe my subconscious played a role. I can’t rule that out.
Your question really goes back to what we were saying just a minute ago. There’s one thing we know about what makes countries rich and what makes countries poor. Everybody who has had a course in economics or has read some of the basics knows that 60 percent of what explains cross-country income differences is explained by productivity differences.
This is good and bad news. It’s good news because it means that we know what really explains income differences. It’s productivity. Sixty percent of income differences is productivity. So, all the other things that we know about, like human capital such as schooling, or physical capital accumulation, or institutions, or a bunch of things that we found ways to measure them, they’re only 40 percent.
The other 60 percent is productivity. That’s great news, because, you know, we nailed it. We know what it is. But then, the obvious next question is, “What is productivity?” And that’s where we say we don’t really know.
Productivity is, as Moses Abramovitz coined it in the 1950s, he said it’s a measure of our ignorance. Because how economists look at productivity is essentially everything that we can’t measure that explains the income of a country, or a firm, or a person. This poses a big challenge, because it could be technologies. It could be knowledge. It could be know-how. It could be a lot of things that we also know from other literature that it’s really difficult to transfer those across countries.
Technologies are really difficult to transfer, but it depends on which technology we’re talking about. When you think about a patent, which is to ensure the technology, that it’s codified, everything is written down, well, we can put that online and Wikipedia, and then everybody can have access to it.
But I can assure you that if I read for the next two days, “What is the technology that I need to know to become a dentist?,” I’m not going to succeed. I’m not going to be able to deal with somebody else’s cavities on my own.
There’s another type of knowledge, which is the knowledge that is embedded in goods, such as a calculator. You don’t need to really know how to add and subtract if you have a calculator. That type of knowledge is also very easy to flow, because you just put it in a container. And the trade costs have really gone down a lot over the past decades. So, that, really, is not a great candidate to explain the disparity between countries.
I’ve been focusing on the third type of knowledge, which is what many people call tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is this knowledge that resides in our brains, that is hard to acquire, is hard to transfer. It really needs a lot of human interaction.
The dentist is a good dentist not because he or she read all the manuals on how to become a dentist but because he or she spent a lot of hours, probably next to another dentist, in residency, learning what each tool is good for, but also, when you have a complexity, how do you do it? How do you move your hands? There’s so many of these tacit knowledge things that a dentist has that you can’t read in Wikipedia—that a pilot has when the pilot is flying a plane.
None of us want to get in a plane where the pilot says, “Hey, don’t worry. I had As in all my physics grades, but it’s the first time I’m flying, so, I wish you a pleasant flight.” Nobody’s going to stay in that plane. When we narrow down this type of knowledge, when we talk about this type of knowledge, it seems like a good explanation of why there’s so much disparity in knowledge, and productivity, and technologies across countries, because this knowledge is really hard to transfer and acquire.
It’s very costly. We don’t know exactly how. So I came to the thinking that if this is the case—that there is this type of knowledge that is really hard to transfer and move around, and it really needs human interaction—then we must be able to see some of this knowledge moving when we see movement of people.
Even though it’s a small share of people who are actually migrants—only 3.5 percent of people in the world today live in a country other than the one they were born in—those flows can still give us a lot of information.
A lot of the research that I’ve been doing is to, first of all, document this idea that knowledge moves very slowly, and it’s really hard to transfer, and the implications that it has for firms, for instance, or for countries as a whole.
And then, moving to the idea that when we see people moving, we also see that these best practices, and this knowledge, and this technology move with them, having a real impact—and by “real,” I mean like a huge impact, such as changing the structure of exports of a country—having a real impact on the countries that they arrive to and also the countries that they come from. That’s a little bit the connection between the two.
Janet Bush: Migrants are the channel that hits both your technology transfer and your knowledge transfer and your productivity boost. You cowrote a paper called “Migrant inventors and the technological advantage of nations.” And you found that countries are between 25 percent and 60 percent more likely to gain advantages in patenting in certain technologies if there’s a doubling in the number of foreign inventors that specialize in those technologies. So that is a big number, as you say.
Dany Bahar: What that paper is looking at is a good example of what we’re talking about. What we’re seeing there is that when inventors move from a country that has a technological advantage in patenting water technologies, for instance—let’s say Israel, because Israel has a good technological advantage on these water technologies—and then you have people moving from Israel to, let’s say, France. What we see in this example is that France starts patenting from scratch, or inventors in France start patenting from scratch, patents within that technology class, in water technologies.
And we attribute this to the migrant flows. These immigrants, these inventors were exposed to technologies that their country of origin was a leader in, and they’re bringing that know-how to another country. We also see that when people move from one country to another, Country A being a competitive exporter of wine, let’s say, they move to another country, and that country also becomes, eventually, ten years later, a competitive exporter of wine to the global markets.
I think the best example of that, by the way, is Franschhoek Valley in South Africa. I don’t know if some of our listeners have been there, but Franschhoek is this little town about 40, 50 kilometers from Cape Town which was founded in the 17th century by French Huguenot refugees who were expelled from France by King Louis XIV.
They settled in many parts of Europe. Some of them went to South Africa. Franschhoek means “the French corner.” So they settled there, and interestingly enough, today, this little town is home to some of the most renowned wineries in South Africa that export wine to the rest of the world. That’s kind of an anecdotal story about this phenomenon.
Janet Bush: Is one reason for the productivity boost that migrants move from low-productivity to high-productivity locations?
Dany Bahar: That’s a great question, and one way to look at that question is to ask whether what we’re finding is really—are they actually moving the productivity or the know-how, or are they following the opportunity?
I appreciate the question, because we, as economists, are very obsessed with causality versus correlation. In those studies that you’re mentioning, we do a great deal of work to try to convince the reader that it’s more that they’re not following opportunity, but they’re actually moving the know-how.
Just to give you an example of one piece of work that we really try to nail that down is one in which we look at Yugoslavian refugees in the 1990s who escaped from the very bloody war in the former Yugoslavia, back in the early 1990s, a lot of them Bosnians but not only, also Croatians and Serbians.
A lot of them settled in Germany. And that gave us what we call, as economists, a natural experiment, because it has all the components of people who were forced to move. They didn’t choose to move. But also when they were in Germany, they had a lot of access to the labor markets, so they could work wherever they wanted. And after a period of time, when the war ended, they were essentially asked to—they were repatriated. They had to go back. Their permission to stay in Germany was ended.
A lot of them went back to their home countries. And what we see there is that when you take the Yugoslavian countries after the war, the industries that performed better—in terms of exports and productivity and creation of firms and value added and a bunch of other things—are the same industries where these refugees were working at while in Germany.
And there we also do a lot of fancy statistics to make sure that we’re actually capturing a causality. But overall, I think it’s a good example of how we are trying to deal with the first one.
Janet Bush: If we take that example and bring it up to date to the mass migration out of Ukraine, is there a huge opportunity there, not only for the countries that receive the refugees but also for Ukraine when the war ends, for when it starts rebuilding?
Dany Bahar: Absolutely. In the case of Ukraine, for instance—also in the case of Venezuela, perhaps even in the case of Syria—I think that this diaspora, these refugees who might or might not come back, they might even settle where they want to settle, and that also could create a lot of gains.
This diaspora could be a huge force, and it will be a huge force, I’m certain, of the reconstruction of the countries. But in the end, it will really depend on policy, because when we think about these flows, all minds go straight into the humanitarian aspects. That’s super important. It has to be done.
We have less focus, as an international community, in the integration part, because I think that what will really maximize their potential to give back to their home country. The more integrated they are, the more they can reach their own potential wherever they are.
That’s an essential part of my research agenda going forward: how to promote integration. And there, firms have a role. Government has a role. There’s a lot of actors that have a role. But we really need to be in that mindset, that the best thing that can happen to Ukraine in the future is if its refugees are able to integrate as much as possible wherever they are and to reach their full potential wherever they are.
Later, those gains are going to show up in their exports, in their investments, in their know-how, in a bunch of different measures, in their innovation, for instance. Whether many of them decide to come back or many of them decide to stay, I’m certain that we’re still going to see a lot of those benefits.
Janet Bush: There are, of course, two types of migration. One is voluntary and one is forced. And I think back in 2016, MGI research said that more than 90 percent of the world’s cross-border migrants were voluntary migrants. They were moving for economic reasons. And then the remaining 10 percent were asylum seekers and refugees. But then, of course, we’ve had waves, huge waves of forced migration from Syria, from Venezuela, and now from Ukraine. So, do you think that the proportion, the share of voluntary versus involuntary has changed?
Dany Bahar: I think that we’re talking about more than 30 million who are forcibly displaced. But in the big scheme of things, yes, I think we’re still seeing that the majority of people are migrants who chose to make the move. And the number of refugees is the smaller share because nobody wants to be a refugee, of course. But, unfortunately, that number is coming up.
Janet Bush: The scale of the economic benefits or even the kind of economic benefits, do they differ according to whether it’s a voluntary migrant or an involuntary migrant? I guess it is to do with integration.
Dany Bahar: It will very much depend on the country. And it’s a process that could take years. Not everybody knows, also, how to start this process. And not everybody knows that they can comply.
The aspiration is that wherever they are, it doesn’t matter if you call them refugees or not, they’re able to access the labor force without any restrictions, they’re able to move freely, to be in a city or in a community where they can reach their full potential.
These are, a little bit, the best practices of integration, I guess. But there should be some efforts by authorities to facilitate the process of giving credentials to professionals and, of course, also to be able to give them the right documentation so that they can participate in the economy at large.
Countries differ on a lot of these things. I think that that’s why there’s still a lot of research to be done on the best practices of integration. Sometimes countries react late. So you have the case of Syrians in Türkiye, for instance, which, for the first few years of their stay there, they were not allowed to work in the formal economy. They didn’t have a work permit.
People are going to work anyway, so many of them went out and worked in the informal sector. By the time the authorities realized that this was not their preferred outcome, and they issued work permits, inertia played a role. It was really hard, after people had certain jobs in the informal sector, to really move to the formal sector. A lot of these practices, we are trying to understand yet. Sometimes they are significantly driven by the fact that we tend to think that refugees are going to be there only for a few months or a few years.
Whereas, in practice, refugees actually tend to stay much longer than what we think, because wars tend to last for longer than what we think. I think that that’s part of the issue. How do we think long term? What do we need to do to give these refugees, whether we want to call them refugees or not, the tools to integrate as much as possible?
Janet Bush: What role can firms play in integrating migrants, whatever kind they are, to get the most economic benefits?
Dany Bahar: Firms are essential, because, at the end, most people will work in firms, will be employees of firms. And there’s a few steps that government plays a role, to facilitate that: first and foremost, to give people the work permits so that they can actually work in these firms.
But there’s one that usually goes under the radar. Particularly when we’re talking about refugees that end up fleeing and staying, perhaps, in bordering areas or in places that are lagging behind in terms of infrastructure or in terms of firm capacity, and that has to do with funding. Usually when we see those instances, we see a lot of funding flowing to humanitarian aspects, which, again, is important, is crucial, essential. But we also need to think about how we can have some of that funding to boost dynamism for the local economy.
Janet Bush: Obviously, integration is absolutely crucial, not only for the migrants, to help them, but, obviously, to secure those economic benefits. Have you seen a model of excellent migration policy/integration policy?
Dany Bahar: I do feel, in particular—perhaps my connection to Venezuela makes me focus on this—I do think very highly of the Colombian model. Colombia has received about two million Venezuelans over the past five, six years. That’s about 4, 5, 6 percent of the population, so it’s a huge flow. A lot of them actually entered undocumented. And Colombia has understood that this could represent a huge gain for them as a country.
At all levels of government that I’ve been interacting with, from the highest levels to bureaucrats in local governments, they realize this. It’s very emotional when you hear them speaking, saying, like, “How can we help our Venezuelan brothers and sisters in integrating better?”
They understood that documentation is crucial. They have a program where they gave a ten-year visa, with full access to the labor force, to all two million Venezuelans. Working with the international community, they’ve created centers all around the country where people can be helped to get access to the labor force. They’ve done some of these programs to provide funds through the national development bank to firms in different places that have a high flow of immigrants and refugees, to invest.
I think there’s a lot to learn from their experience. And I hope that other countries will continue to learn from what they’re doing.
Janet Bush: And have you been able to measure the benefits to Colombia?
Dany Bahar: We found three important stylized facts in a number of papers. First, this process of giving them a regular visa did not have any adverse effects on the labor market of locals. So, no jobs were lost. No wages went down because of this.
Second, we found an interesting story that relates to female empowerment, which I think is a very pretty story, because we’re finding that once these immigrants receive a regular visa, we start seeing an increase in the reports of crime. Not the number of crimes, but the reports of crime, particularly of domestic violence and sexual crimes.
This is driven by Venezuelan women. It tells us one interpretation, which is the one that we think is the right one, is that it’s empowering Venezuelan women who now, having a regular visa, they feel empowered to go to the authorities and make the claims. I think that that’s a very important angle that we tend to overlook a lot.
And finally, we have a study on entrepreneurship. And entrepreneurship is a thing that we’re still trying to understand what it is and what makes somebody an entrepreneur. But I think something is clear: that to be an entrepreneur, you need to have enough certainty that you’re going to be able to appropriate all the returns of the investment you’re doing today.
That might take five, ten, 15 years, who knows? What we see is that people who got this visa, who became a regular resident through these visa processes, they increased the rate of entrepreneurship by a factor of ten. Let that sink in for a second.
Janet Bush: Wow.
Dany Bahar: By a factor of ten, putting them at par with the rate of entrepreneurship of Colombians. They were creating firms. I actually went to Colombia and saw some of these firms. They’re small firms. They are, perhaps, stores. They are restaurants. They are bakeries. They are hairdressers. But they’re firms that are formal.
They’re created in the business registry of the country. They bring dynamism to the economy. And I think that this is part of that policy of trying to understand, “How can we make the right policy context to help these people reach their full potential?” And this is a case in point.
Janet Bush: Many countries who see these waves of refugees get frightened. The people get frightened for their jobs and whatever. Does that undermine the case for skills-based migration, economic migration?
Dany Bahar: As an economist, I have a bit of a mea culpa. I think that for many decades, we economists, when we were thinking about migration and refugees, we tended to focus, for the most part, on the questions regarding labor markets. Whether migrants are going to take our jobs or not take our jobs, or increase our salaries or decrease our salaries, and, “What’s its size,” and so on.
Those are interesting questions academically, because you have the labor supply and the labor demand, and you move the labor supply. It’s a nice way to look at a theoretical prediction. For the most part, these studies have shown that there’s very little effect or there’s very little displacement. Sometimes there is a displacement which is statistically significant but economically is not that significant. We’re talking about very, very small numbers.
By doing this, I think we really forgot about the main aspects. First of all, that not all refugees and migrants are the same. They bring very different skills. Sometimes they bring diversity and skills that we didn’t have before.
And this is important from an economic perspective, because that means that they are often more complementary than substitutes to other workers. Think about it for listeners. If you want more Americans to be doctors and engineers, you’re also going to need Americans or people who live in America who are going to be cabdrivers and cooks, because an engineer needs a cook and a taxi driver, and a doctor needs a nurse and needs somebody who can make sure that every tool is sterile and well cleaned.
The way we economists think about the economy is transitioning to really look at the skills, and look at the complementarity of the skills, and understanding that what we produce is not only based on one equation where you just have a number of workers and a number of firms, of capital, of machines.
But it’s really complementarities between workers. And in that sense, migrants can play a huge role, because they can come and really complement other workers, make them better off. There’s some research on that by my colleague Giovanni Peri, who’s a professor at UC Davis, who has shown by looking at a long-term perspective, by looking at refugees in Denmark, for instance—refugees coming from Yugoslavia or, even more recently, from Syria, et cetera. Looking at people who might not have a college degree or even a high school degree.
And he has shown that when these people are flowing to the economy, the locals actually tend to do better. They experience this occupational mobility upwards. That allows them—I mean, it puts some competition to the labor market, but that allows them to move towards skills and tasks where they have an advantage, such as the language, for instance.
If you take a look at the long-term effects, or medium to long term, you tend, always, to see that migrants are a driving force of dynamism. And even when you’re focusing on people without college degrees and with high school degrees, you still see there’s a movement which is, for the most part, positive for the economy.
Janet Bush: When you put it all together—the productivity effect, the technology diffusion effect, almost that influential effect—how big do you think the benefits of migration are?
Dany Bahar: I think that migration could be the key to economic development that we haven’t discovered yet. I think that when people move across borders and move across regions, they bring with them all this know-how, and best practices, and technology that really reflects in how firms become more productive, how new firms appear, how sectors become more productive as a whole, how countries grow in general.
We have a bunch of our institutions that allow us to make sure that if I send you money, it’s going to get to you and also protecting us from illicit flows. But when it comes to migration, there’s nothing much. Each country has its own regulation, a lot of it driven by politicians and political views and not so much by economics or actual facts. And now, the world is kind of moving with the global compact for migration, the global compact for refugees, to think a little bit about, how we can collaborate on these. In 2023, after migration started, like, 60,000 years ago.
I think that migration has a huge potential, but I think that we are keeping ourselves from that potential. Just to put a number on it, Michael Clemens, who is a colleague and a mentor who I really respect and admire—he’s a professor now at George Mason University—he has written a paper showing that if people were actually to move freely across borders, we would enjoy increasing GDP that could be trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars, almost automatically. The logic for this is that—it’s very intuitive. Talent is global. And if we keep people from moving to the place where they can reach their full potential given their talent, then we’re all paying for that. We’re all keeping the cake small.
Whereas if people can move, the cake will continue to grow. But we’re so focused on who’s eating the slice of the cake instead of the size of the cake that we haven’t been able to coordinate on how to make these flows beneficial for all of us.
Janet Bush: Very early on in our conversation, you said that it’s really important that people are with each other, that the knowledge transfer happens when you work with somebody. But I suppose the counter to that is, in the era of Zoom and fantastic technology where we can talk to each other wherever we are, is it not possible to do it using technological means? Or do you have to be in the same country, in the same room as that other person?
Dany Bahar: That’s a fascinating question. The boring answer is, “We still need more research to figure exactly how that trade-off could work.” But my speculation is that there is so much that we can do over Zoom, that there is so much we can do for teams to interact in a way that will maximize their potential if they don’t know each other in person. I can tell you that I do think that human mobility, physical mobility is going to continue to be a thing. In all the research that I’ve done and others have done, we show that these effects are huge.
For instance, we just finished a study where we’re looking at how nonstop flights between inventors strongly facilitate their ability to work together and come up with new inventions that are of higher quality, etcetera.
I think a lot of it will stay, and I think the challenge for us, as humans, as firms, as an economy, is to find that sweet spot where we can continue to have the flexibility but, at the same time, figure out how we do the team building that we need to facilitate that diversity, and those new ideas, and really take advantage of that.
Janet Bush: We just recently had on as a guest Nick Bloom, who was saying that the ultimate model is two days in the office, three days at home, and to stick to that. But the two days is for the human interaction. But I guess that technology, in the meantime, might be the bridge to knowledge diffusion.
Dany Bahar: I think so.
Janet Bush: We like to end our podcast with a few little quick questions, so if you’re up for that, let’s go for that.
Dany Bahar: Sure.
Janet Bush: You’re somebody whose identity spans more than one country. You’re a world citizen. But where do you feel most at home?
Dany Bahar: Wow, that’s a tough one. I think I feel, everywhere where I’ve been, a little bit home. I think I can see home where you have your people, and your interests, and your friends. I do feel a special connection with Israel. But I think that I’m more flexible with the term “home.”
Janet Bush: Yes. What’s your favorite food?
Dany Bahar: I definitely will go with Venezuelan food here. Arepas and all that, yeah.
Janet Bush: Excellent. What makes you most optimistic now, right now?
Dany Bahar: I think that we are seeing a generation of people who really want to make a difference and really care for the other more than ourselves. And I think that eventually is going to translate into changing the rules of the game in a way that will make all of us better off.
Janet Bush: And what makes you most pessimistic?
Dany Bahar: Politics. Politics in general.
Janet Bush: If you had not been an economist, what could you have been or liked to have been, and not just as an engineer?
Dany Bahar: I would have loved to be a politician.
Janet Bush: Having dissed them—
Dany Bahar: I would have loved to be in public service. And maybe I will one day. Who knows?
Janet Bush: And what’s the one piece of advice that you would give to our listeners?
Dany Bahar: Be willing to always challenge what you’re reading. Always think, “What’s behind this thought? What’s behind this opinion?” And I think that this curiosity is what keeps life interesting.
Janet Bush: Well, thank you very much, Dany. It’s been great to talk to you. Thanks so much for coming on.
Dany Bahar: Thanks for having me. It’s been a real pleasure.