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The Aggregate Effects of Trade and Migration: Evidence from OECD Countries


  • Ortega, Francesc

    () (Queens College, CUNY)

  • Peri, Giovanni

    () (University of California, Davis)


Two large but separate bodies of literature analyze the economic effects of international trade and immigration. Given that several factors are important determinants of both trade and migration flows, the previous studies are vulnerable to a potentially serious omitted-variables bias, questioning the validity of existing estimates of the effects of trade and immigration on income. This paper provides estimates of the effects of trade and immigration on income in a unified framework. We also provide a useful decomposition of the channels at work in terms of the employment rate, the capital intensity, and total factor productivity of the receiving economy. We assemble panel data on immigration flows, output, employment and capital stocks for thirty OECD countries over the period 1980-2007. In order to identify the causal effects of trade and immigration on economic outcomes we adopt and extend the gravity-based approach in Frankel and Romer (1999). Our predictors for trade and immigration flows are based on geography and the demographic trends of each country’s trade and migration partners. We find that immigration has a large, positive effect on the employment rate of the receiving country. However, it leaves income per capita unaffected because of an offsetting negative effect on TFP. In contrast, trade flows appear to increase income per capita, mainly through TFP growth, and have no impact on the employment rate. The positive employment effect of immigration is the most robust of all the effects identified in this paper.

Suggested Citation

  • Ortega, Francesc & Peri, Giovanni, 2011. "The Aggregate Effects of Trade and Migration: Evidence from OECD Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 5604, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5604

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Patricia Cortés & José Tessada, 2011. "Low-Skilled Immigration and the Labor Supply of Highly Skilled Women," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 88-123, July.
    2. Farré Lidia & González Libertad & Ortega Francesc, 2011. "Immigration, Family Responsibilities and the Labor Supply of Skilled Native Women," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-48, June.
    3. Libertad González & Francesc Ortega, 2008. "How Do Very Open Economies Absorb Large Immigration Flows? Recent Evidence from Spanish Regions," Economic Reports 06-08, FEDEA.
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco D'Amuri & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Immigration, Jobs, And Employment Protection: Evidence From Europe Before And During The Great Recession," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Economics of International Migration, chapter 5, pages 153-185 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. Peri, Giovanni & D'Amuri, Francesco, 2010. "Immigration, Jobs and Employment Protection: Evidence from Europe," Institute of European Studies, Working Paper Series qt9rp2j8m1, Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley.
    3. Marchiori, Luca & Maystadt, Jean-François & Schumacher, Ingmar, 2012. "The impact of weather anomalies on migration in sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 355-374.
    4. Alessandra Venturini, 2012. "Innovation and Migration," RSCAS Working Papers mpc:2012/05, European University Institute.

    More about this item


    trade; international migration; income; geography;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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