Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 06 February 2018

Persistent poverty, economic decay and lack of opportunities cause discontent in declining regions, while policymakers reason that successful agglomeration economies drive economic dynamism, and that regeneration has failed. This column argues that this disconnect has led many of these ‘places that don’t matter’ to revolt in a wave of political populism with strong territorial, rather than social, foundations. Better territorial development policies are needed that tap potential and provide opportunities to those people living in the places that ‘don’t matter’.

Samuel Bazzi, Arya Gaduh, Alex Rothenberg, Maisy Wong, 07 January 2018

Fostering a broad and inclusive sense of national identity is vital for long-term social cohesion, but it is difficult to achieve in light of rapidly growing local diversity. This column uses the example of Indonesia’s Transmigration Programme to show that residential mixing, linguistic differences, and the extent of political and economic competition between groups determine whether diversity leads to integration, social isolation, or segregation – all of which can be influenced by good policy. Properly implemented, such policies both increase social cohesion and encourage greater nation-building.

Michel Serafinelli, Guido Tabellini, 06 January 2018

Innovation is often concentrated in certain geographic areas, or ‘creative clusters’. This column uses novel data on famous births to explore the dynamics of creativity in European cities between the 11th and 19th centuries. The results show that creativity tends to precede economic prosperity, and that city institutions that protect personal and economic freedoms are conducive to radical innovation in a variety of domains.

Mushfiq Mobarak, Karen Levy, Maira Reimão, 21 November 2017

Mushfiq Mobarak, Karen Levy, Maira Reimão, 14 November 2017

Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Viola von Berlepsch, 10 November 2017

Research on the economic impact of migration on hosts and the migrants themselves has tended to focus on the short term. This column traces the economic impact of population diversity in the US resulting from the Age of Mass Migration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. High levels of population fractionalisation have had a strong, positive influence on economic development, while high levels of polarisation have undermined development. Despite a stronger effect on income levels in the first 30 years following the initial migration shock, the relationships are found to be extremely long-lasting.

Susanne Frick, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 20 October 2017

Big cities have historically been seen as an important prerequisite for a country’s economic growth. In recent decades, however, developing countries have rapidly urbanised, and large cities are increasingly found in relatively poor countries. This column uses a new dataset to revisit the relationship between city size and economic growth. It finds that relatively small cities (with populations under three million) have been more conducive to economic growth, while very large cities are only growth-enhancing in countries with a very large urban population.

Khulan Altangerel, Jan van Ours, 06 October 2017

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was the first major reform intended to control and deter illegal immigration to the US through legalisation of unauthorised immigrants, increased border security, and sanctions on employers that hired unauthorised immigrants. This column uses data from an annual survey of Mexican households to show that the Act had a negative and significant effect on undocumented migration. However, since the Act’s legalisation programme was active for only a few years, its long-term effects appear to have been limited.

Peter Robertson, Longfeng Ye, 11 September 2017

The conventional wisdom is that labour reallocation has been a key driver of China’s growth miracle, and slowing migrant labour flows and rapid wage growth have raised concerns over whether this source of growth has run its course. This column argues that the literature on growth and labour reallocation in China has been dominated by a method that, relative to the now standard growth accounting model, substantially overstates the gains. Allowing for this and for human capital differences across sectors, sectoral labour reallocation has not been a key source of productivity growth in China.

Ruiqing Cao, Theresa Kuchler, Johannes Stroebel, Arlene Wong, 08 September 2017

Systematic analyses of social connectedness and social networks have traditionally been complicated by a lack of high-quality, large-scale data. This column uses data on friendship links on Facebook to construct a new measure of social connectedness between US counties, and between US counties and foreign countries. Social networks in the US are quite local, and both national and international networks are substantially shaped by historical events and migration patterns. The populations of US counties with more geographically dispersed social networks are generally richer and better educated, and have higher life expectancy and greater social mobility.

Samuel Bazzi, Arya Gaduh, Alex Rothenberg, Maisy Wong, 07 August 2017

Rikard Eriksson, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 08 August 2017

While job-related mobility is key to knowledge sharing, it may also undermine on-the-job training through labour poaching, and assessing its overall impact on productivity and growth is not straightforward. This column uses data on nearly 2.7 million new hires in Sweden to analyse the impact of labour mobility on plant performance. The greatest positive impact is seen in the country’s three largest cities, while firms in other large urban and university regions emerge as the biggest losers from job mobility.

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.

Timothy Hatton, 20 June 2017

While immigration preferences have been studied extensively, less attention has been paid to the public’s assessment of the importance of immigration as a policy issue. Using survey data from 17 European countries, this column shows that the drivers of immigration preference and salience are very different. Both immigration preference and salience should be taken into account when assessing the effect of immigration attitudes on policy. 

Scott Ross Baker, Nicholas Bloom, Steven Davis, 15 December 2015

Kaivan Munshi, 28 June 2016

Sandra Sequeira, Nathan Nunn, Nancy Qian, 17 May 2017

Recent empirical studies of the effects of immigration have tended to focus on short-run outcomes. This column considers the longer run by examining how mass migration at the turn of the 20th century has affected US outcomes today. Higher historical immigration between 1860 and 1920 is found to result in significantly better social and economic outcomes today. The results suggest that the long-run benefits of immigration can be large, can persist across time, and need not come at a high social cost.

Michael Clemens, Ethan Lewis, Hannah Postel, 19 April 2017

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. 

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.