Mette Foged, Linea Hasager, Giovanni Peri, 20 March 2021

The labour market integration of refugees and immigrants is key to their ability to contribute to the economy of the receiving country and to enhancing the fiscal sustainability of more open immigration policies. Using the quasi-random assignment of Danish refugees to language training, this column shows that language acquisition significantly increased the lifetime earnings of refugees. Refugees with language training became more likely to work in communication-intensive jobs and obtained additional education. The positive effects are transmitted to the next generation in terms of improved schooling outcomes for male children of refugees.

Xavier Devictor, Quy-Toan Do, Andrei Levchenko, 20 February 2021

It is usually observed that countries neighbouring a conflict area end up accommodating the largest numbers of refugees often for very long periods of time. Using data on worldwide bilateral refugee stocks from 1987-2017 compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this column examines the spatial distribution of refugees and its evolution over time. It finds that while most refugees still remain in a country neighbouring their country of origin, the past decades have seen a trend towards greater geographic diffusion.

Johannes Buggle, Thierry Mayer, Seyhun Orcan Sakalli, Mathias Thoenig, 25 January 2021

The recent refugee crisis has fuelled discussions about policies restricting immigration. This column quantifies the extent to which asylum policies affect emigration by analysing the migration decisions of German Jewish refugees in the 1930s. Policies have large effects on migration as the effects are multiplied through peers who influence each other in the decision to emigrate. Removing work restrictions for refugees in the recipient countries after the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 would have led to a 28% increase in Jewish emigration out of Germany.

Mathias Thoenig, 08 January 2021

A new study uses detailed data on the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany to investigate why individuals become refugees. Mathias Thoenig tells Tim Phillips about a simple policy that would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the 1930s, but is still ignored today.

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Panu Poutvaara, Felicitas Schikora, 11 December 2020

Around 2.4 million refugees and irregular migrants arrived in Europe from 2015 to 2016. This column presents systematic evidence on how local unemployment and attitudes towards immigrants at refugees’ initial place of residence shape their multi-dimensional integration in the context of the European refugee crisis. Leveraging Germany’s centralised allocation policy, which exogenously assigns refugees to live in specific counties, it finds that high initial local unemployment negatively affects refugees’ economic and social integration. Further, favorable attitudes towards immigrants promote the economic and social integration of refugees.

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.

Anna Maria Mayda, Christopher Parsons, Han Pham, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 20 January 2020

While resettled refugees in the US historically exhibit remarkable success, this column shows that refugees also foster development to their origin countries through the mechanism of foreign direct investment. A 10% increase in refugees in a given commuting zone causes outward FDI flows to increase to their countries of origin, 10 to 15 years after having taken refuge, by 0.54%. Decisions made primarily for humanitarian reasons in developed host nations thus yield economic benefits for some of the world's poorest nations in the medium run.

Dany Bahar, Andreas Hauptmann, Cem Özgüzel, Hillel Rapoport, 22 November 2019

The economic debate on immigration has focused on migration’s short-term labour market and fiscal effects. Less attention has been given to the long-run economic opportunities linked to migration. This column uses the case of refugees returning to the former Yugoslavia from Germany after the end of the Yugoslav wars to explore the role that returning migrants play in shaping the industrial development of their home country. The findings support the idea that migrants are drivers of knowhow and technology transfers between countries.

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Panu Poutvaara, 05 September 2019

About 1.4 million refugees and irregular migrants arrived in Europe in 2015 and 2016, but little is known about their socio-demographic characteristics and motivations. This column presents the first large-scale evidence on why those who crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 and 2016 had left their home countries. While the vast majority were escaping conflict, the main motivation for a significant number of migrants from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Pakistan was a desire to seek out better economic opportunities. People who are educated to secondary or tertiary level are more likely to migrate than people with lower levels of education, particularly when fleeing a major conflict, and these people are more likely to head for countries that have more comprehensive migrant integration policies.

Michael Clemens, Jennifer Hunt, 21 July 2017

Sudden inflows of refugees have been shown to have little or no impact on native wages, but recent research has challenged this consensus, using instrumental variables to show uniformly large detrimental effects. This column argues that these new results were due to problems with the strategy used and, in the case of the Mariel boatlift, the composition of the sample. Correcting for these flaws, the impact of immigration on average native-born workers remains small and inconsistent, with no evidence to show a large detrimental impact on less-educated workers.

, 14 December 2016

Migration is a mechanism through which crises can be spread out globally. In this video, Andrés Solimano discusses the impact of mass forced migration for recipient countries. This video was recorded at the UNU-WIDER Development Conference in September 2016.

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The aim of the conference is to reflect on the limits of current data used to study migration and to connect producers and academic users of migration data. The organizing committee invites the submission of high-quality academic papers that use different datasets (administrative, survey, experimental). A roundtable will be organized with stake-holders that facilitate data collection and dissemination (DGEF, IAB, INED, OECD).

Key note speaker: Herbert BRÜCKER (University of Bamberg, IAB, IZA) “Causes and consequences of refugee migration: new evidence from the German refugee survey”

If you would like to submit a paper please send an email to [email protected]. In the case of multiple-authored papers, indicate who will present and whether or not the presenter would also be willing to act as a discussant. Authors will be notified about the acceptance of papers and the conference programme by the end of March, 2017.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 1 March, 2017.

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.

Christian Dustmann, Francesco Fasani, Tommaso Frattini, Luigi Minale, Uta Schӧnberg, 18 October 2016

The current refugee crisis poses an enormous challenge not only to European countries, but to the fundaments and achievements of the EU as a whole. This column discusses how this latest crisis differs from the crisis in the early 1990s, and argues there is a drastic need for a new regulatory framework to replace dated coordination attempts. The framework should be based on two pillars: a coordinated policy that secures Europe’s outer borders and deals with asylum claims before refugees have (illegally) crossed into mainland Europe, and a more equitable allocation mechanism.

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.

Gabriel Felbermayr, Jasmin Gröschl, Thomas Steinwachs, 27 April 2016

The refugee crisis has placed Europe’s Schengen Agreement under stress, with some calling for the reintroduction of identity checks and other border controls. This column presents new estimates of the potential costs of such controls. On average, the removal of controls at one border acts like the removal of a 0.7% tariff. The controls currently notified to the EU Commission could lower EU GDP by around €12.5 billion. The full demise of Schengen would be about three times as costly.

Mathieu Couttenier, Veronica Preotu, Dominic Rohner, Mathias Thoenig, 06 April 2016

The refugee crisis that erupted in 2015 has raised concerns about potential violence and criminality of the migrants. This column investigates whether past exposure to conflict makes asylum seekers in Switzerland more violent. The findings show that cohorts exposed to civil conflicts/mass killings during childhood are, on average, 40% more prone to violent crimes than their co-nationals born after the conflict. Certain policies can mitigate this result. In particular, offering labour market access to asylum seekers eliminates all the effect.

Eli Berman, Mitch Downey, Joe Felter, 15 February 2016

The bloody conflicts in Syria and Iraq have forced the issue of refugees onto the global agenda. However, among the neglected aspects of this discussion are how governance can be restored to conflict regions and the welfare effects that such actions, which are likely to be coercive, will have on local residents. This column examines the impact of a counter-insurgency programme in the Philippines on one development outcome in contested territories – malnutrition of young children. The programme saw a substantial long-term decrease in malnutrition in recaptured areas, but a rise in malnutrition in neighbouring areas. Such efforts may simply displace insurgents and their negative effects, rather than reducing them.

Joakim Ruist, 28 January 2016

The current inflow of refugees into Europe has left policymakers in disagreement over how to react. A major concern is the perceived financial burden that can result from large intakes. This column discusses the fiscal impact of refugees on the Swedish economy. The current net redistribution from the non-refugee population to refugees (excluding arrivals in 2015) is estimated to be 1.35% of GDP. The economic burden of a generous refugee policy is therefore not particularly heavy, especially if the host country incorporates them as quickly as possible into the labour market.

Scott 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. 

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