FDI, International Property Markets and the Individualisation of Risk: Structuring Lifestyle Migrant Investments in Panama
The paper brings together understandings of the relationship between migration and development with the emerging body of work on transnational gentrification to highlight how (middle-class) migrant capital is being courted in the service of neoliberal economic development strategies. It presents the case of lifestyle migration to Panama, highlighting the development of the lifestyle industry that supports this. It outlines the place-making and marketing through which Panama was made one of the best places in the world to retire to. Further, it highlights how this understanding of Panama becomes part of the cultural logic of lifestyle migrants, feeding into the practice of their everyday lives in the destination. And yet, income distribution in Panama is one of the most unequal in central and south America, widening as neoliberalism seeps further into the economy. As I conclude, such foreign investment through property is part of the problem in ways in which the migrants themselves are unaware.