Alberto Alesina, Elie Murard, Hillel Rapoport, 08 April 2019

A large literature shows that generosity, both public and private, is more freely extended within the same group rather than across groups. This column examines how immigration affects natives’ attitudes towards redistribution and the implications for welfare states in Europe. The main finding is that in regions which have received a larger share of immigrants, natives are in general less favourable towards redistribution. Some European countries face the dilemma of natives favouring generous welfare policies for themselves but opposing them for immigrants.

Mathieu Couttenier, Sophie Hatte, Mathias Thoenig, Stephanos Vlachos, 02 April 2019

Populists often claim that immigration is a threat to the interests of the majority. This column quantifies the extent to which the media coverage of immigrant crime fuelled populist political support in a Swiss referendum. It finds that disproportionate coverage of immigrant crime increased an anti-minaret vote by 5%.

Thor Berger, Per Engzell, 28 March 2019

There are striking regional variations in economic opportunity across the US. This column proposes a historical explanation for this, showing that local levels of income equality and intergenerational mobility in the US resemble those of the European countries that current inhabitants trace their origins from. The findings point to the persistence of differences in local culture, norms, and institutions.

Joan Monras, 03 March 2019

Arguments over the effect of immigration on labour market outcomes focus on a single number: the impact on low-skill wages. The column uses a model of the adjustment process of labour markets in the US to the peso crisis of 1995 to show there is a difference between short-run and long-run effects. The model suggests that state-level policies are unlikely to be effective.

Guido Friebel, Miriam Manchin, Mariapia Mendola, Giovanni Prarolo, 02 February 2019

There is a general understanding that illegal migration only exists because of the smuggling industry. However, there is no reliable information on how migrants’ intent to leave their home country and come to Europe, for example, depends on the availability of smuggling services. This column uses data on migrant flows arriving at European borders after the effective opening to Libyan refugees of the central Mediterranean migration route, following the 2011 fall of the Gaddafi regime, to estimate the supply elasticity of the lucrative smuggling industry. Findings indicate that when the smuggling distance between country-pairs gets shorter, there is an increase in individual intentions to migrate.

William J. Collins, Ariell Zimran, 19 January 2019

Negative sentiment towards immigrants is often based on fears about their ability to integrate into economic, political, and social institutions. This column analyses the impact of the influx of Irish immigrants into the US in the 19th century. It shows that the children of immigrants had assimilated in terms of labour market outcomes within one generation, providing some perspective for the current debate about immigration policy.

David Jacks, John Tang, 21 October 2018

Foreign goods and workers are regularly blamed when the national economy is performing poorly. Economic theory suggests that trade and migration are substitutes – one can import cheaper products from a trade partner, or one can import the foreign workers themselves to narrow the difference in international factor prices. Yet, empirically this is not obvious. Based on available long-run data for international trade and migration since the late 19th century for the US and Canada, this column finds that during the interwar period, trade and immigration did in fact appear to be substitutes.

Jonathan Portes, 04 October 2018

A report by the UK Government’s independent Migration Advisory Committee draws on new research on the impact of immigration to the UK, particularly on migration, training, and the public finances. This column presents some of the findings from the report.

Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, 21 September 2018

There is a contentious global debate surrounding the impact of immigrants on local labour markets. One less contentious aspect has been the notion that immigrant entrepreneurs can have major positive effects for the host economy. This column uses novel US data to explore how immigrant entrepreneurs affect local labour markets and compare with native entrepreneurs. Key findings include substantial geographic variation in immigrant startup rates, lower hiring and salaries, and slightly higher female ownership in immigrant-owned firms. 

Lee Branstetter, Britta Glennon, J. Bradford Jensen, 21 August 2018

US firms have begun shifting R&D investment towards non-traditional destinations such as China, India, and Israel. The column argues that this is a response to a shortage in software and IT-related human capital within the US. When US multinationals are able to import talent or export R&D work, this reinforces US technological leadership. Conversely, politically engineered constraints on this response will undermine the competitiveness of US-based firms.

Katherine Eriksson, Zach Ward, 06 August 2018

Those opposed to immigration often contend that immigrants are slow to assimilate. This column takes a longer-term view of assimilation by looking at the degree of ethnic spatial segregation in the US during and after the Age of Mass Migration. New methods and newly digitised data suggest that segregation in the US between 1850 and 1940 was both higher and more widespread than previously thought. However, despite slow rates of spatial assimilation, immigrants tend to assimilate culturally at a fast rate. 

Alberto Alesina, Armando Miano, Stefanie Stantcheva, 31 July 2018

The debate on immigration is often based on misperceptions about the number and character of immigrants. The column uses data from surveys in six countries to show that such misperceptions are striking and widespread. The column also describes how an experiment in which people were encouraged think about their perception of immigrants made them more averse to redistribution in general, suggesting that the focus on immigration in the political debate – without correcting the misperceptions respondents have about immigrants – could have the unintended consequence of reducing support for redistribution.

Olivier Blanchard, Jacob Kirkegaard, 04 July 2018

Christoph Albert, Joan Monras, 29 June 2018

Immigrants usually spend part of their time, savings, and income in their country of origin and not where they currently live. This column uses US data to argue that the resulting difference in consumption patterns relative to natives has profound implications for the types of cities that immigrants are attracted to. It shows that immigrants redistribute economic activity towards large, expensive cities. These cities tend to be more productive, so immigrants have a positive effect on overall output.

Alessandra Casarico, Giovanni Facchini, Tommaso Frattini, 28 June 2018

European countries have recently experienced an extraordinary inflow of asylum seekers. Using a theoretical framework and US data, this column studies the key economic triggers which prompt policymakers to implement immigration legalisation programmes. It shows that the more restricted the occupational opportunities of undocumented immigrants and the smaller the fiscal leakage to undocumented immigrants via the welfare state, the more desirable an amnesty is. 

Vasiliki Fouka, Soumyajit Mazumder, Marco Tabellini, 17 June 2018

The ability of a state to accommodate diverse populations depends on how successfully immigrant groups can assimilate. The column use data from the south-north migration of 1.5 million African Americans between 1910 and 1930 to show that the appearance of other low-status groups can promote assimilation among pre-existing immigrants. The new low-status group makes existing immigrants appear less socially distant to natives. This suggests that assimilation policies that target native attitudes might as promising as interventions directed at immigrants.

Simon Wren-Lewis, 12 June 2018

Joan Monras, Javier Vázquez-Grenno, Ferran Elias, 15 May 2018

Studies have shown that granting work permits helps immigrants settle and integrate into host economies, but we know relatively little about how host economies are affected by the mass legalisation of immigrant workers. This column uses one of the largest and most unexpected legalisations in the world – by the Zapatero government in Spain – to show how legalisation can increase public revenues, but can also have distributive consequences for other workers in the economy.

Assaf Razin, 06 May 2018

The exodus of Soviet Jews to Israel in the 1990s was a unique event. This column shows that this immigration wave was distinctive for its large high-skilled cohort, and its quick integration into the domestic labour market. Immigration also changed the entire economic landscape, raising productivity and underpinning the information technological surge. Israel’s unusually robust assimilation of immigrants into the economic sphere and the electoral system has transformed the political balance and triggered significant changes in income distribution.

Francesco Fasani, Tommaso Frattini, Luigi Minale, 09 April 2018

The lack of differentiation between refugees and other immigrants in immigration data presents major problems for researchers looking at refugee integration. This column uses novel European data to investigate factors affecting the integration of asylum seekers into host labour markets. The results suggest that allowing free residential mobility and reducing uncertainty in refugee status determination processes could improve future labour market outcomes.

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