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International migration and the world income distribution

Author

Listed:
  • Devesh Kapur

    (Centre for Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA)

  • John McHale

    (Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

Abstract

Emigrants moving from poor to rich countries experience large income gains on average. These gains are further augmented by remittances that allow a portion of the gains to be spent at lower sending-country prices. Taking advantage of recently available estimates of emigration-related income gains, this paper estimates the direct impact of international migration on the world income distribution. We find that international migration raises world income per person by just under 1 per cent, while it raises the incomes of those born in developing countries by approximately 2¼ per cent relative to the no-migration benchmark. Allowing for the remittance price effect augments these gains by about half. International migration also decreases the between-country component of world inequality (as measured by the between-country Theil coefficient) by about 2 per cent. While these aggregate income gains are significant, even small 'brain-drain' related adverse growth effects could quickly swamp the direct gains to migrants where rich-country immigration policies have a strong skill bias. A surer route to realising the potential of migration to increase world welfare would be to expand emigration opportunities for the less skilled. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Devesh Kapur & John McHale, 2009. "International migration and the world income distribution," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(8), pages 1102-1110.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:21:y:2009:i:8:p:1102-1110
    DOI: 10.1002/jid.1649
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/jid.1649
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Caselli, Francesco, 2005. "Accounting for Cross-Country Income Differences," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 679-741 Elsevier.
    2. Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina & Özden, Çaglar, 2008. "Brain waste? Educated immigrants in the US labor market," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 255-269, October.
    3. 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.
    4. Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Rethinking The Effect Of Immigration On Wages," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Economics of International Migration, chapter 2, pages 35-80 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    5. Guillermina Jasso & Mark Rosensweig & James P. Smith, 2003. "The Earnings of US immigrants," Labor and Demography 0312007, EconWPA.
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    Cited by:

    1. María del Pilar Bohada R., 2010. "Desplazamiento forzado y condiciones de vida de las comunidades de destino: el caso de Pasto, Nariño," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 12(23), pages 259-298, July-Dece.
    2. Ben Crow & Nichole Zlatunich & Brian Fulfrost, 2009. "Mapping global inequalities: Beyond income inequality to multi-dimensional inequalities," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(8), pages 1051-1065.
    3. Blau, Francine D. & Kahn, Lawrence M., 2012. "Immigration and the Distribution of Incomes," IZA Discussion Papers 6921, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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