Social Science > Emigration and Immigration

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Ruchir Agarwal, Patrick Gaulé, and Geoff Smith
This paper studies the impact of U.S. immigration barriers on global knowledge production. We present four key findings. First, among Nobel Prize winners and Fields Medalists, migrants to the U.S. play a central role in the global knowledge network—representing 20-33% of the frontier knowledge producers. Second, using novel survey data and hand-curated life-histories of International Math Olympiad (IMO) medalists, we show that migrants to the U.S. are up to six times more productive than migrants to other countries—even after accounting for talent during one’s teenage years. Third, financing costs are a key factor preventing foreign talent from migrating abroad to pursue their dream careers, particularly for talent from developing countries. Fourth, certain ‘push’ incentives that reduce immigration barriers—by addressing financing constraints for top foreign talent—could increase the global scientific output of future cohorts by 42 percent. We concludeby discussing policy options for the U.S. and the global scientific community.
Patrick A. Imam and Mr. Kangni R Kpodar
This paper analyzes the impact of citizenship laws on economic development. We first document the evolution of citizenship laws around the world, highlighting the main features of jus soli, jus sanguinis as well as mixed regimes, and shedding light on the channels through which they could have differentiated impact on economic development. We then compile a data set of citizenship laws around the world. Using cross-country regressions, panel-data techniques, as well as the synthetic control method and subjecting the results to a battery of tests, we find robust evidence that jus soli laws—being more inclusive—lead to higher income levels than alternative citizenship rules in developing countries, though to a less extent in countries with stronger institutional environment.
Giang Ho and Rima Turk-Ariss
This paper presents novel empirical evidence on the labor market integration of migrants across Europe. It investigates how successfully migrants integrate in 13 European countries by applying a unified framework to analyze a rich micro dataset with over ten million individuals surveyed between 1998 and 2016. Focusing on employment outcomes, we document substantial heterogeneity in the patterns of labor market integration across host countries and by migrant gender and origin. Our results also point to the importance of cohorts and network effects, initial labor market conditions, and the differential impact of education acquired domestically and abroad in determining migrants’ subsequent employment prospects. The analysis has implications for the design of effective integration policies.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on long-term impact of Brexit on the European Union (EU). This paper examines consequences of Brexit on the EU27 under various post-Brexit scenarios by using two different complementary approaches. Our results, which are broadly in line with recent findings in the literature, are twofold. First, Brexit would have negative effects on the EU27 as well, given the depth and the complexity of the EU-U.K. integration. Similar to various empirical studies, it has been observed that the estimated long-term output and employment losses (in percent) for the EU27 in the study are on average lower than the corresponding losses for the UK estimated in the literature. The level of output and employment are estimated to fall at most by up to 1.5 percent and 0.7 percent in the long run in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit scenario, respectively. A “soft” Brexit outcome would lead to much lower losses.
Benjamin Hilgenstock and Zsoka Koczan
The paper examines the potential effects of international migration on labor force participation in advanced economies in Europe. It documents that migration played a significant role in alleviating aging pressures on labor supply by affecting the age composition of receiving countries’ populations. However, micro-level analysis also points to differences in average educational levels, as well as differences in the effects of any given level of education on participation across migrants and natives. Difficulties related to the recognition of educational qualifications appear to be associated with smaller effects of education on the odds of participation for migrants, especially women.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes household balance sheet structure in Denmark and sensitivity to rising rates. Households in Denmark have gotten considerably wealthier in recent decades. High household assets, in particular in the mandatory pension system and housing, provide stability by funding future consumption and protecting against shocks. The high, but mostly illiquid, assets have a counterpart, however, in the high household debt, as households often need to borrow to consume or buy property. The resulting combination of large assets and liabilities on household balance sheets make the Danish economy sensitive to interest-rate changes. Sudden increases in interest rates can create macroeconomic instability via their impact on the debt service of households and knock-on effects on consumption.
International Working Group on External Debt Statistics
This issue of Finance & Development examines the good and bad sides of globalization. Sebastian Mallaby notes that after decades of increasing cross-border movements of capital, goods, and people, only migration continues apace. Capital flows have collapsed, and trade has stagnated. However, rather than a sign of retreat, trade and finance may be resetting to a more sustainable level consistent with continued globalization. IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld takes a closer look at trade. Ismaila Dieng profiles Leonard Wantchekon, a former activist who plans to train the next generation of African economists. Wantchekon, now a professor at Princeton University, is one of the few African economists teaching at a top US university. His research, which has received considerable attention from development economists, focuses on the political and historical roots of economic development in Africa.
Robert C. M. Beyer
The paper uses a large survey (GSOEP) to analyze the labor market performance of immigrants in Germany. It finds that new immigrant workers earn on average 20 percent less than native workers with otherwise identical characteristics. The gap is smaller for immigrants from advanced countries, with good German language skills, and with a German degree, and larger for others. The gap declines gradually over time. Less success in obtaining jobs with higher occupational autonomy explains half of the wage gap. Immigrants are also initially less likely to participate in the labor market and more likely to be unemployed. While participation fully converges after 20 years, immigrants always remain more likely to be unemployed than the native labor force.
Mr. Shekhar Aiyar, Ms. Bergljot B Barkbu, Nicoletta Batini, Mr. Helge Berger, Ms. Enrica Detragiache, Allan Dizioli, Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Ms. Huidan Huidan Lin, Ms. Linda Kaltani, Mr. Sebastian Sosa, Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo, and Petia Topalova
Against the background of political turmoil in the Middle-East, Europe faces an unprecedented surge in asylum applications. In analyzing the economic impact of this inflow, this paper draws from the experience of previous economic migrants and refugees, mindful of the fact that the characteristics of economic migrants can be different from refugees. In the short-run, additional public expenditure will provide a small positive impact on GDP, concentrated in the main destination countries of Germany, Sweden and Austria. Over the longer-term, depending on the speed and success of the integration of refugees in the labor market, the increase in the labor force can have a more lasting impact on growth and the public finances. Here good policies will make an important difference. These include lowering barriers to labor markets for refugees, for example through wage subsidies to employers, and, in particular, reducing legal barriers to labor market participation during asylum process, removing obstacles to entrepreneurship/self-employment, providing job training and job search assistance, as well as language skills. While native workers often have legitimate concerns about the impact of immigrants on wages and employment, past experience indicates that any adverse effects are limited and temporary.
Tigran A. Melkonyan and Mr. David A. Grigorian
The paper explicitly models the dynamic strategic aspects of the interaction between the migrant and the remittance-receiving relative(s), with the migrant behaving as a Stackelberg leader. It is also different from other formalizations of remittance behavior in its treatment of the two parties' interaction to realize potential gains from exchange. We demonstrate that when the migrant and the relative(s) cooperate to maximize the joint utility of the household, this leads to higher level of remittances as well as investment and hours worked by the relative(s). We use data from Armenia to test our predictions regarding implications of remittances flows on behavior of receiving households. Consistent with our predictions, remittance-receiving households work fewer hours and spend less on the education of their children. While saving more, these households are not leveraging their savings to borrow from the banking system to expand their business activities. This evidence suggests that the benefits of remittances might be overstated and emphasizes the importance of measuring their impact in a general- rather than a partial-equilibrium context.