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The new economic case for migration restrictions: An assessment

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  • Clemens, Michael A.
  • Pritchett, Lant

Abstract

Migration barriers tend to reduce global production by impeding efficient spatial reallocation of labor. Recent research argues for a countervailing effect of barriers, tending to raise global production by preventing the spread of impoverishing institutions from poor to rich countries. While evidence of this mechanism is scarce, it is theoretically plausible at high migration rates. We propose and calibrate a simple model of dynamically efficient migration when migrants spread economic institutions between countries. The net effect of migration depends on three parameters: transmission, the degree to which origin-country total factor productivity is embodied in migrants; assimilation, the degree to which migrants' productivity determinants become like natives' over time in the host country; and congestion, the degree to which transmission and assimilation change at higher migrant stocks. On current evidence about the magnitudes of these parameters, dynamically efficient policy would not imply open borders but would imply relaxation of current restrictions.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:138:y:2019:i:c:p:153-164
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2018.12.003
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    Keywords

    F22; J61; O11;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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