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Is There a Numbers versus Rights Trade-off in Immigration Policy? What the Data Say


  • Matthew Cummins
  • Francisco Rodriguez


This paper explores the empirical support behind the idea that there is a trade-off between the size of low-skilled migrant labor populations and the rights and entitlements accorded to them. We first look at the empirical correlation between measures of migrants' rights and the size of both the stock and flow of immigrants in a number of existing databases. Using data on migrants' rights from three recent studies—the Economist Intelligence Unit's Migrant Accessibility Index, the Migration Policy Group and British Council's Migrant Integration Policy Index, and the Human Development Report Office's Migrant Entitlements and Services Index—we fail to find a systematic correlation of any sign. We then turn to regression analysis using ordinary least squares and instrumental variable techniques, and again fail to find evidence in favor of the existence of a correlation. The numerical magnitudes of the correlations suggest a quantitatively small relationship that in several cases is positive rather than negative.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Cummins & Francisco Rodriguez, 2010. "Is There a Numbers versus Rights Trade-off in Immigration Policy? What the Data Say," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 281-303.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jhudca:v:11:y:2010:i:2:p:281-303 DOI: 10.1080/19452821003696855

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Clemens & Claudio Montenegro & Lant Pritchett, 2008. "The Place Premium: Wage Differences for Identical Workers across the U.S. Border," Working Papers 148, Center for Global Development.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeni Klugman & Isabel Medalho Pereira, 2009. "Assessment of National Migration Policies: An emerging picture on admissions, treatment and enforcement in developing and developed countries," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2009-48, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revised Oct 2009.
    2. John Gibson & David McKenzie & Halahingano Rohorua, 2014. "Development Impacts of Seasonal and Temporary Migration: A Review of Evidence from the Pacific and Southeast Asia," Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 18-32, January.

    More about this item


    Migration rights and entitlements; Measurement; Migration data;

    JEL classification:

    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty


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