Migration

Victor Gay, Daniel Hicks, Estefania Santacreu-Vasut, 10 September 2016

Evidence suggests that many forms of gender inequality are higher in countries where the language distinguishes gender. But these patterns could arise spuriously, as languages and other cultural institutions have co-evolved throughout history. This column uses an epidemiological approach to isolate language from other cultural forces and provide direct evidence on whether language matters. The findings suggest how gender roles have been shaped, how they are perpetuated, and, ultimately, how they can be changed.

Jonathan Portes, 11 August 2016

Immigration was a major factor – perhaps the major factor – in the Brexit vote. This column asks what the result of the referendum means for the UK’s immigration policy. It looks likely that the UK’s negotiating position may coalesce around an ‘EEA minus’ arrangement. While free movement would not continue as now, this would not imply moving to a system that gives effectively equal treatment to EU and non-EU nationals; there would still be a considerable degree of preference for the former. The negotiations would likely be legally, economically, and politically complex, but this does not mean that it is not worth trying.

Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, 10 August 2016

Increased hostility to immigration has been a key driver of the rise of right-wing populist movements across the world. At the same time, local governments – notably in the US – have designed work programmes to attract immigrant entrepreneurs to their areas. This column explores the types of businesses founded by immigrants and their growth patterns, and examines how these outcomes relate to immigrants’ age at arrival to the US. Immigrant entrepreneurs experience greater volatility – they fail more frequently, but those that persist experience greater employment growth than their native counterparts. 

Taryn Dinkelman, Martine Mariotti, 20 July 2016

Economic research on migration tends to focus on workers, labour markets, or communities in receiving countries. However, labour migration and earnings could have important impacts on migrants’ home countries. This column explores these effects by focusing on circular migration from Malawi to South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. Malawian districts that had the greatest exposure to migration shocks have better educated workers, even three decades later. These findings point to potential ‘brain gain’ effects for sending communities. 

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, 04 July 2016

Attitudes toward immigration policy are driven by fears about cultural diversity, not just individual economic circumstances. This column looks back at the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913), when 30 million migrants moved from Europe to the US, to examine whether such fears are justified. US Census data from 1920 reveals that recent immigrants gave their children more foreign names than long-standing immigrants, which suggests that cultural assimilation did take place over time. This assimilation had economic benefits for children, both in school and in the labour market.

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