IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/jecper/v25y2011i3p83-106.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk?

Author

Listed:
  • Michael A. Clemens

Abstract

What is the greatest single class of distortions in the global economy? One contender for this title is the tightly binding constraints on emigration from poor countries. Vast numbers of people in low-income countries want to emigrate from those countries but cannot. How large are the economic losses caused by barriers to emigration? Research on this question has been distinguished by its rarity and obscurity, but the few estimates we have should make economists' jaws hit their desks. The gains to eliminating migration barriers amount to large fractions of world GDP—one or two orders of magnitude larger than the gains from dropping all remaining restrictions on international flows of goods and capital. When it comes to policies that restrict emigration, there appear to be trillion-dollar bills on the sidewalk.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael A. Clemens, 2011. "Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 83-106, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:3:p:83-106
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.3.83
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.3.83
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Juergen Backhaus & Richard Wagner, 1987. "The cameralists: A public choice perspective," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 53(1), pages 3-20, January.
    2. Richard B. Freeman, 2006. "People Flows in Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 145-170, Spring.
    3. World Bank, 2001. "Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries 2001," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14779, December.
    4. Sébastien Dessus & Kiichiro Fukasaku & Raed Safadi, 2001. "Multilateral Tariff Liberalisation and the Developing Countries," OECD Development Centre Policy Briefs 18, OECD Publishing.
    5. J. William Ambrosini & Karin Mayr & Giovanni Peri & Dragos Radu, 2011. "The Selection of Migrants and Returnees: Evidence from Romania and Implications," NBER Working Papers 16912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    7. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2006. "Identifying Human-Capital Externalities: Theory with Applications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(2), pages 381-412.
    8. Michel Beine & Fréderic Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2008. "Brain Drain and Human Capital Formation in Developing Countries: Winners and Losers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(528), pages 631-652, April.
    9. Batista, Catia & Lacuesta, Aitor & Vicente, Pedro C., 2012. "Testing the ‘brain gain’ hypothesis: Micro evidence from Cape Verde," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 32-45.
    10. Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2012. "Globalization, Brain Drain, and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(3), pages 681-730, September.
    11. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Pozo, Susan, 2004. "Workers' Remittances and the Real Exchange Rate: A Paradox of Gifts," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1407-1417, August.
    12. Leah Platt Boustan & Price V. Fishback & Shawn Kantor, 2010. "The Effect of Internal Migration on Local Labor Markets:American Cities during the Great Depression," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 719-746, October.
    13. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
    14. Carlos Vargas‐Silva, 2009. "The Tale of Three Amigos: Remittances, Exchange Rates, and Money Demand in Mexico," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 1-14, February.
    15. Robert Kaestner & Ofer Malamud, 2014. "Self-Selection and International Migration: New Evidence from Mexico," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 78-91, March.
    16. Giovanni Peri & Francesc Ortega, 2009. "The Causes and Effects of International Migrations: Evidence from OECD Countries 1980-2005," Working Papers 78, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    17. Frédéric Docquier & Çaǧlar Özden & Giovanni Peri, 2010. "The Wage Effects of Immigration and Emigration," NBER Working Papers 16646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Murray Leibbrandt & James Levinsohn, 2014. "Fifteen Years On: Household Incomes in South Africa," NBER Chapters, in: African Successes, Volume I: Government and Institutions, pages 333-355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Anna Maria Mayda, 2006. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 510-530, August.
    20. Walmsley, Terrie L. & Winters, L. Alan, 2005. "Relaxing the Restrictions on the Temporary Movement of Natural Persons: A Simulation Analysis," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 20, pages 688-726.
    21. Michael Kremer, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-575.
    22. Philip Oreopoulos & Alan J. Auerbach, 1999. "Analyzing the Fiscal Impact of U.S. Immigration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 176-180, May.
    23. Prescott F. Hall, 1913. "The Recent History of Immigration and Immigration Restriction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21, pages 735-735.
    24. O'Rourke, Kevin, 1995. "Emigration and Living Standards in Ireland since the Famine," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 8(4), pages 407-421, November.
    25. Gemechu Ayana Aga & Christian Eigen-Zucchi & Sonia Plaza & Ani Rudra Silwal, 2013. "Migration and Development Brief, No. 20," World Bank Other Operational Studies 17020, The World Bank.
    26. Jagdish Bhagwati, 1984. "Incentives and disincentives: International migration," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 120(4), pages 678-701, December.
    27. David McKenzie & John Gibson & Steven Stillman, 2010. "How Important Is Selection? Experimental vs. Non-Experimental Measures of the Income Gains from Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 913-945, June.
    28. Michael Clemens & Satish Chand, 2008. "Human Capital Investment under Exit Options: Evidence from a Natural Quasi-Experiment," Working Papers 152, Center for Global Development, revised Feb 2019.
    29. Parsons, Christopher R. & Skeldon, Ronald & Walmsley, Terrie L. & Winters, L. Alan, 2007. "Quantifying international migration : a database of bilateral migrant stocks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4165, The World Bank.
    30. Bhagwati, Jagdish & Hamada, Koichi, 1974. "The brain drain, international integration of markets for professionals and unemployment : A theoretical analysis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-42, April.
    31. Shepperson, Wilbur S., 1953. "Industrial Emigration in Early Victorian Britain," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 179-192, April.
    32. Erik Canton, 2009. "Human Capital Externalities and Proximity: Evidence from Repeated Cross-Sectional Data," De Economist, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 79-105, March.
    33. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1993. "After the Famine: Emigration from Ireland, 1850–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 575-600, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Michael A. Clemens, 2016. "Losing our minds? New research directions on skilled emigration and development," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 37(7), pages 1227-1248, October.
    2. Giovanni Peri & William Ambrosini & Karin Mayr & Dragos Radu, 2012. "The Selection of Migrants and Returnees in Romania: Evidence and long-run implications," Working Papers 136, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    3. Ambrosini, J. William & Mayr, Karin & Peri, Giovanni & Radu, Dragos, 2012. "The Selection of Migrants and Returnees in Romania: Evidence and Long-Run Implications," IZA Discussion Papers 6664, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2012. "Globalization, Brain Drain, and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(3), pages 681-730, September.
    5. Clemens, Michael A. & Pritchett, Lant, 2019. "The new economic case for migration restrictions: An assessment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 153-164.
    6. Gröger, André, 2021. "Easy come, easy go? Economic shocks, labor migration and the family left behind," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    7. Yao Pan, 2017. "The Impact of Removing Selective Migration Restrictions on Education: Evidence from China," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 52(3), pages 859-885.
    8. Hatton, Timothy J., 2014. "The economics of international migration: A short history of the debate," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 43-50.
    9. Gordon Hanson, 2010. "The Governance of Migration Policy," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 185-207.
    10. Frédéric Docquier & Joël Machado & Khalid Sekkat, 2015. "Efficiency Gains from Liberalizing Labor Mobility," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 117(2), pages 303-346, April.
    11. Slobodan DJADJIC & Frédéric DOCQUIER & Michael S. MICHAEL, 2019. "Optimal Education Policy and Human Capital Accumulation in the Context of Brain Drain," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 85(4), pages 271-303, December.
    12. Frédéric Docquier, 2014. "The brain drain from developing countries," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 1-31, May.
    13. Docquier, Frédéric & Iftikhar, Zainab, 2019. "Brain drain, informality and inequality: A search-and-matching model for sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 109-125.
    14. Blaise Gnimassoun & John C. Anyanwu, 2019. "The Diaspora and economic development in Africa," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 155(4), pages 785-817, November.
    15. J. William Ambrosini & Karin Mayr & Giovanni Peri & Dragos Radu, 2011. "The Selection of Migrants and Returnees: Evidence from Romania and Implications," NBER Working Papers 16912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Marco Delogu & Frédéric Docquier & Joël Machado, 2018. "Globalizing labor and the world economy: the role of human capital," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 223-258, June.
    17. Blaise Gnimassoun & John Anyanwu, 2019. "Working Paper 308 - The Diaspora and Economic Development in Africa," Working Paper Series 2434, African Development Bank.
    18. Jens Ruhose, 2015. "Microeconometric Analyses on Economic Consequences of Selective Migration," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 61, May.
    19. Luca Marchiori & I-Ling Shen & Frédéric Docquier, 2013. "Brain Drain In Globalization: A General Equilibrium Analysis From The Sending Countries' Perspective," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(2), pages 1582-1602, April.
    20. Jackline Wahba, 2015. "Selection, selection, selection: the impact of return migration," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(3), pages 535-563, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:3:p:83-106. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Michael P. Albert (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.