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The New Economic Case for Migration Restrictions: An Assessment

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  • Clemens, Michael A.

    () (Center for Global Development)

  • Pritchett, Lant

    () (Harvard Kennedy School)

Abstract

For decades, migration economics has stressed the effects of migration restrictions on income distribution in the host country. Recently the literature has taken a new direction by estimating the costs of migration restrictions to global economic efficiency. In contrast, a new strand of research posits that migration restrictions could be not only desirably redistributive, but in fact globally efficient. This is the new economic case for migration restrictions. The case rests on the possibility that without tight restrictions on migration, migrants from poor countries could transmit low productivity ("A" or Total Factor Productivity) to rich countries – offsetting efficiency gains from the spatial reallocation of labor from low to high-productivity places. We provide a novel assessment, proposing a simple model of dynamically efficient migration under productivity transmission and calibrating it with new macro and micro data. In this model, the case for efficiency-enhancing migration barriers rests on three parameters: transmission, the degree to which origin-country total factor productivity is embodied in migrants; assimilation, the degree to which migrants' productivity determinants become like natives' over time in the host country; and congestion, the degree to which transmission and assimilation change at higher migrant stocks. On current evidence about the magnitudes of these parameters, dynamically efficient policy would not imply open borders but would imply relaxations on current restrictions. That is, the new efficiency case for some migration restrictions is empirically a case against the stringency of current restrictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Clemens, Michael A. & Pritchett, Lant, 2016. "The New Economic Case for Migration Restrictions: An Assessment," IZA Discussion Papers 9730, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9730
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:jecgro:v:23:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9153-z is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Costanza Biavaschi & Micha? Burzynski & Benjamin Elsner & Joël Machado, 2018. "Taking the Skill Bias out of Global Migration," Working Papers 201808, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    3. Tani, Massimiliano, 2018. "Selective Immigration, Occupational Licensing, and Labour Market Outcomes of Foreign-Trained Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 11370, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. repec:ces:ifodic:v:16:y:2018:i:1:p:50000000001952 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:bla:worlde:v:41:y:2018:i:10:p:2599-2630 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:oup:erevae:v:44:y:2017:i:4:p:592-633. is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Lant Pritchett, 2018. "Alleviating Global Poverty: Labor Mobility, Direct Assistance, and Economic Growth," Working Papers 479, Center for Global Development.
    8. repec:kap:pubcho:v:174:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-018-0509-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Dao, Thu Hien & Docquier, Frédéric & Parsons, Chris & Peri, Giovanni, 2018. "Migration and development: Dissecting the anatomy of the mobility transition," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 88-101.
    10. Tani, Massimiliano, 2018. "Selective immigration policies, occupational licensing, and the quality of migrants’ education-occupation match," GLO Discussion Paper Series 206, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    11. repec:eee:poleco:v:55:y:2018:i:c:p:65-96 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Rodrik, Dani, 2017. "Is Global Equality the Enemy of National Equality?," Working Paper Series rwp17-003, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    13. Massimiliano Tani, 2018. "Using a Points System for Selecting Immigrants," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 16(1), pages 08-13, May.
    14. d'Artis Kancs & Patrizio Lecca, 2018. "Long‐term social, economic and fiscal effects of immigration into the EU: The role of the integration policy," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(10), pages 2599-2630, October.
    15. Marco Delogu & Frédéric Docquier & Joël Machado, 2018. "Globalizing labor and the world economy: the role of human capital," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 223-258, June.
    16. Tani, Massimiliano, 2017. "Skilled Migration Policy and the Labour Market Performance of Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 11241, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; migration; migrant; wages; impact; globalization; labor; GDP; productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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