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Open Borders in the European Union and Beyond: Migration Flows and Labor Market Implications


  • John Kennan


In 2004, the European Union admitted 10 new countries, and wages in these countries were generally well below the levels in the existing member countries. Citizens of these newly-admitted countries were subsequently free to take jobs anywhere in the EU, and many did so. In 2015, a large number of refugees from Syria and other broken countries sought to migrate to EU countries (along very dangerous routes), and these refugees were met with fierce resistance, at least in some places. This paper seeks to understand the labor market implications of allowing free migration across borders, with particular reference to the EU. The aim is to quantify the migration flows associated with EU enlargement, and to analyze the extent to which these flows affected equilibrium wages. The main conclusion is that the real wage effects are small, and the gains from open borders are large.

Suggested Citation

  • John Kennan, 2017. "Open Borders in the European Union and Beyond: Migration Flows and Labor Market Implications," NBER Working Papers 23048, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23048
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kjetil Storesletten, 2000. "Sustaining Fiscal Policy through Immigration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 300-323, April.
    2. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-959, December.
    3. Klein Paul & Ventura Gustavo J, 2007. "TFP Differences and the Aggregate Effects of Labor Mobility in the Long Run," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-38, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lorenzo Caliendo & Luca David Opromolla & Fernando Parro & Alessandro Sforza, 2017. "Goods and Factor Market Integration: A Quantitative Assessment of the EU Enlargement," CEP Discussion Papers dp1494, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. repec:rsr:journl:v:65:y:2017:i:2:p:57-79 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • 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

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