Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk? - Working Paper 264
Large numbers of people born in poor countries would like to leave those countries, but barriers prevent their emigration. Those barriers, according to economists’ best estimates to date, cost the world economy much more than all remaining barriers to the international movement of goods and capital combined. Yet economists spend much more time studying the movement of goods and capital, and when they study migration at all, they focus on the effects of immigration on nonmigrants in destination countries. I ask why this is the case and sketch a four-point research agenda on the effects of emigration. Barriers to emigration deserve a research priority that is commensurate with their likely colossal economic effects.