Ulrich J. Eberle, Vernon Henderson, Dominic Rohner, Kurt Schmidheiny, 09 July 2020

Urbanisation is a major driver of economic development. Agglomeration forces that make cities productive and dispersion forces that limit their growth have been extensively studied, but the effect of ethnolinguistic diversity has been largely overlooked. This column shows that more diverse regions tend to experience more social tensions and conflict, less urbanisation, less urban concentration, and hence potentially less economic growth. This effect is however more confined to intermediate political regimes like fragile democracies, whereas a mature degree of democracy helps to defuse the negative impact of diversity on urbanisation.

Paola Giuliano, Marco Tabellini, 10 June 2020

Immigration to Europe and the US has met with a heated political backlash in recent decades, but the long-term impact of immigration on political ideology not well understood. This column focuses on the migration of millions of Europeans to the US between 1900 and 1930, and finds that the historical presence of European immigrants encouraged a more liberal political ideology and stronger preferences for redistribution among the native-born population. The difference is due in part to inter-group contact, which allows for the transmission (or ‘melting’) of immigrants’ experiences and ideas.

Francesco Fasani, Tommaso Frattini, Luigi Minale, 09 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light how much societies rely on migrants for key labour while highlighting the vulnerabilities of already weaker groups. Easing the socio-economic integration of migrants is beneficial to both migrants and host countries; yet, many European countries ban asylum seekers from legal employment upon arrival. This column examines the effect of such employment bans. The bans have large and lasting negative effects on refugees’ future labour-market integration and constitute an economic loss for the host country. Allowing early labour market access is an easily implementable and financially costless policy that effectively accelerates refugee integration.

Nicolas Ajzenman, Cevat Giray Aksoy, Sergei Guriev, 05 June 2020

The impact of the 2015 refugee crisis on sending and receiving societies has received significant scholarly attention. But there is little research on how the crisis affected ‘transit countries’ through which migrants travelled. This column studies 800 localities in 18 European countries to discover how local populations responded to the temporary presence of forced migrants. Data show that entrepreneurial activity of residents living closer to refugee routes fell considerably, and while anti-migrant sentiment increased in these areas, attitudes towards other minorities remained unchanged.

Sebastian Braun, Nadja Dwenger, 19 May 2020

The procedures for relocating forced migrants differ considerably across countries, and information about how resettlement locations within host countries affect integration outcomes remains scarce. And yet, the number of forced migrants around the world increased dramatically over the last decade and continues to grow. This column studies displaced Germans after WWII and finds they fared poorly when relocated to agrarian regions with high migrant density. The authors recommend that current resettlement policies avoid directing large concentrations of migrants to a limited selection of rural areas.

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