Many claim that immigrants negatively affect the labour market prospects of native workers in advanced countries. This column studies a large change in immigration restrictions in the US – the 1965 exclusion of almost half a million Mexican seasonal farm workers (braceros) from the US labour market. The bracero exclusion did not increase the employment or wages of native workers, and technology adoption was one of the adjustment channels.
Michael Clemens, Ethan Lewis, Hannah Postel, 19 April 2017
Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, Çağlar Özden, Christopher Parsons, 31 January 2017
The distribution of talent and human capital is highly skewed across the world. As high-income countries engage in a global race for talent, the resulting migration of high-skilled workers across countries tilts the deck even further. This column draws upon newly available data to outline the patterns and implications of global talent mobility. Key results include recent dramatic increases in high-skilled migration flows, particularly in certain occupations, in certain countries, among those with higher skill levels, and from a wider range of origins.
Jonathan Portes, Giuseppe Forte, 05 January 2017
The various projections of the impact of Brexit on the UK economy that were produced during the referendum campaign omitted the economic impact of changes in migration to the UK. This column presents plausible scenarios for future migration flows and estimates of the likely impacts. The potential negative impact of Brexit-induced reductions in openness to migration on the UK economy could well equal that resulting from Brexit-induced reductions in trade.
Vincenzo Bove, Leandro Elia, 16 November 2016
There is much dispute over whether immigration is beneficial or detrimental to the host country, and any conclusions are often event-driven rather than evidence-based. This column explores evidence on how immigration affected economic development between 1960 and 2013 through its effect on the cultural and ethnic composition of the destination country. Cultural heterogeneity appears to have had a positive impact on economic development, and the positive effect of diversity seems to have been stronger in developing countries.
Craig McIntosh, Gordon Hanson, 15 November 2016
At first glance, the migration pressures on the EU and US appear similar, but recent history is not a reliable guide to future trends. This column uses demographic trends to predict that the US will experience a gradual decline in its newly arrived immigrant population, while the EU, ringed by nearby high-population-growth states, will see large increases in the stock of first-generation immigrants. As a result, US emphasis on strengthening borders and returning undocumented migrants may be misplaced.
Konrad Burchardi, Thomas Chaney, Tarek Hassan, 12 November 2016
The economic effects of the unprecedented levels of international migrations over the past few years are at the centre of political debates about immigration policy. This column evaluates the causal effect of migration on foreign direct investment using immigration patterns to the US going back to the 19th century. Foreign direct investment is found to follow the paths of historical migrants as much as it follows differences in productivity, tax rates, and education. The results suggest a mechanism of information flow facilitation, and that the effect of ancestry on foreign direct investment is very long-lasting.
Francesco Fasani, 31 October 2016
The migration debate is often harsh and polarised, oscillating from calls for more open borders to promises to build new fences, and contrasting the views of those who emphasise the advantages and benefits from migration flows with those who consider migrants to impose an unnecessary strain on hosting societies. This column introduces a new eBook that offers a brief summary of what economists have learnt about migration in several crucial areas of policymaking, and identifies most of the important questions that still remain to be answered.
Munshi Kaivan, 29 June 2016
Institutions are implicit or explicit rules that bring people with the same objective together. In this video, Kaivan Munshi discusses the role of informal community-based institutions in migration and the development process. Pre-existing social groups support migration and eventually development. This video was shot during the conference on “Economic Development and Institutions” held in Paris in June 2016.
Timothy Hatton, 23 May 2016
The Syrian exodus has created a crisis that has thrown the existing European asylum system into chaos and has led to an increasingly polarised debate over solutions. This column argues that in the long term, we need to shift away from the current system of ‘spontaneous’ asylum migration towards a comprehensive resettlement programme. However, a radical shift towards resettlement is unlikely while the Syrian crisis continues at its current intensity.
Allison Shertzer, Randall Walsh, 19 May 2016
US cities became increasingly segregated by race over the 20th century. General consensus holds that most of this segregation was concentrated in the post-war period. This column uses neighbourhood-level data to find that racial segregation in cities began earlier; indeed, much of it had taken place by 1930. The column also examines the residential response of whites to black arrivals, suggesting that this contributed to segregation in addition to discrimination and institutional factors.
Jacob Kirkegaard, 25 January 2016
The migrant crisis will continue to top headlines in 2016. This column takes a detailed look at the EU’s response to dealing with migration, concluding that everything points towards failure as the likely outcome. Unlike the most critical aspects of the Eurozone Crisis, the main drivers of the current migration emergency are external factors such as war. These circumstances are highly unlikely to change in the medium term. The hardball politics and threats that proved extraordinarily effective in coercing member states into accepting domestic political conditionality in return for financial aid during the Eurozone Crisis are doomed to fail when it comes to migration.
Matthew Bloomfield, Ulf Brüggemann, Hans Christensen, Christian Leuz, 17 December 2015
Labour mobility is an important prerequisite for the efficiency of labour markets. In the EU, however, different standards across countries present an implicit economic barrier for high-skilled professionals. This column examines how the recent EU harmonisation of professional standards in accounting affected cross-border migration relative to other professionals. The harmonisation had a strong positive effect on accountants’ cross-border migration. Harmonisation could thus be a potentially powerful tool for policymakers seeking to improve labour market efficiency.
Scott Ross Baker, Nicholas Bloom, Steven Davis, 15 December 2015
The recent influx of refugees to Europe has stoked security fears and created anxiety about the social and economic consequences. This column provides new quantitative indicators for the intensity of migration-related fears and policy uncertainty, based on newspaper articles. The indices are presented for the US, UK, France, and Germany, and extend back to 1995. They show that recent levels of concern and uncertainty in European countries about migration are unprecedented.
William Kerr, Martin Mandorff, 31 October 2015
Immigrants are more likely to concentrate around specific industries and entrepreneurship. Market integration and discrimination only go a certain way towards explaining this phenomenon. This column explores how social interactions affect immigrants’ employment decisions in the US. Fifteen ethnic groups are found to cluster around certain industries at a rate 10 times greater than the native population. Immigrants are argued to be drawn to the same industries as their countrymen due to the ease of diffusing skills through social interactions in the group, along with higher earnings due to specialisation.
Emilie Anér, Anna Graneli, Magnus Lodefalk, 14 October 2015
A large body of research has established a positive link between immigrants and bilateral trade. However, the temporary movement of people across borders has received less attention. This column uses Swedish data to analyse the impact of temporary cross-border movement on trade. Recently arrived migrants are found to reduce the negative impact of distance on foreign trade, by assisting firms to overcome informal and informational barriers to trade with their origin country. Facilitating movement of people across borders can be a highly useful tool for engaging in and benefitting from specialised and internationalised production networks.
Timothy Hatton, 05 June 2015
As a result of the Arab Spring and conflicts in the Middle East, thousands of people have been boarding boats from North Africa and making for Europe. This columns discusses the progress the EU has made in dealing with the situation. Many important decisions and critical actions still need to be made.
Corrado Giulietti, Jackline Wahba, Yves Zenou, 21 December 2014
Migration is heavily influenced by social networks. Nonetheless, little is known about the underlying mechanisms. This column uses a new dataset from China to disentangle the effects of strong and weak ties on the migration decision. The findings indicate that strong and weak ties act as complements. Having many weak ties with an urban area amplifies the positive impact of having a strong tie in the same area.
Frédéric Docquier, Çağlar Özden, Giovanni Peri, 06 October 2014
Researchers have devoted little attention to the effects of emigration from OECD countries, and the absence of detailed emigration data is the main culprit. Using a new and improved migration database, this column analyses the effect of migration on the wages of less educated native workers. The results suggest that, as far as labour market outcomes of less educated workers are concerned, governments should worry less about new arrivals and more about the potential consequences of their high emigration rates.
Assaf Razin, Efraim Sadka, 01 September 2014
European migration exhibits a bias towards low-skilled workers, whereas the US attracts the majority of the world’s skilled migrants. At the same time, the welfare system in Europe is more generous than the one in the US. This column describes an analytical framework that can explain the existence of these differences. Whether a group (union) of member states competes or coordinates its policies has an impact on the skill composition of its migrants and the generosity of the welfare system.
John Helliwell, Shun Wang, Jinwen Xu, 12 March 2014
Social norms have been shown to have important effects on economic outcomes. This column discusses new evidence showing that social norms are deeply rooted in long-standing cultures, but do evolve in reaction to major changes. It draws on a fully global sample involving migrants in more than 130 countries, using seven waves of the Gallup World Poll.