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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.

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  • 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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    2. Costanza Biavaschi & Micha? Burzynski & Benjamin Elsner & Joël Machado, 2018. "Taking the Skill Bias out of Global Migration," Working Papers 201808, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    3. Tani, Massimiliano, 2018. "Selective Immigration, Occupational Licensing, and Labour Market Outcomes of Foreign-Trained Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 11370, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    7. Lant Pritchett, 2018. "Alleviating Global Poverty: Labor Mobility, Direct Assistance, and Economic Growth," Working Papers 479, Center for Global Development.
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    10. Dao, Thu Hien & Docquier, Frédéric & Parsons, Chris & Peri, Giovanni, 2018. "Migration and development: Dissecting the anatomy of the mobility transition," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 88-101.
    11. Rodrik, Dani, 2017. "Is Global Equality the Enemy of National Equality?," Working Paper Series rwp17-003, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    12. Tani, Massimiliano, 2018. "Selective immigration policies, occupational licensing, and the quality of migrants’ education-occupation match," GLO Discussion Paper Series 206, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    13. Gibson, John & McKenzie, David & Rohorua, Halahingano & Stillman, Steven, 2019. "The long-term impact of international migration on economic decision-making: Evidence from a migration lottery and lab-in-the-field experiments," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 99-115.
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    15. d'Artis Kancs & Patrizio Lecca, 2018. "Long‐term social, economic and fiscal effects of immigration into the EU: The role of the integration policy," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(10), pages 2599-2630, October.
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    Keywords

    F22; J61; O11;

    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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