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The Governance of Migration Policy

  • Gordon Hanson

In this paper, I examine high-income country motives for restricting immigration. Abundant evidence suggests that allowing labor to move from low-income to high-income countries would yield substantial gains in global income. Yet, most high-income countries impose strict limits on labor inflows and set their admission policies unilaterally. Making immigration more attractive would require creating mechanisms that limit the negative impacts of labor inflows on natives. Fiscal distortions create an incentive for receiving countries to screen immigrants according to their perceived economic impact. For high-skilled immigrants, screening can be based on educational degrees and professional credentials, which are relatively easy to observe. For low-skilled immigrants, illegal immigration represents an imperfect but increasingly common screening device. For policy-makers in labor-importing nations, the modest benefits freer immigration brings may simply not be worth the political hassle. To induce high-income countries to lower border barriers, they need to get more out of the bargain.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Human Development and Capabilities.

Volume (Year): 11 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 185-207

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jhudca:v:11:y:2010:i:2:p:185-207
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