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What Fundamentals Drive World Migration?

  • Hatton, Timothy J.
  • Williamson, Jeffrey G.

OECD governments note rising immigration with alarm and grapple with policies aimed at selecting certain migrants and keeping out others. Economists appear to be well armed to advise governments since they are responsible for an impressive literature that examines the characteristics of individual immigrants, their absorption and the consequences of their migration on both sending and receiving regions. Economists are, however, much less well armed to speak to the determinants of the world migrations that give rise to public alarm. This Paper offers a quantitative assessment of the economic and demographic fundamentals that have driven and are driving world migration, across different historical epochs and around the world. The Paper is organized around three questions: how do the standard theories of migration perform when confronted with evidence drawn from more than a century of world migration experience? How do inequality and poverty influence world migration? Is it useful to distinguish between migration pressure and migration ex-post, or between the potential demand for visas and the actual use of them?

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Paper provided by World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) in its series Working Paper Series with number UNU-WIDER Research Paper DP2003/23.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:dp2003-23
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  2. Barry R. Chiswick, 1999. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected? An Economic Analysis," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 147, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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  10. Ximena Clark & Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "Where Do U.S. Immigrants Come From, and Why?," NBER Working Papers 8998, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward, 1991. "Migration Incentives, Migration Types: The Role of Relative Deprivation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1163-78, September.
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  18. Maurice Obstfeld & Alan M. Taylor, 2003. "Globalization and Capital Markets," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 121-188 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Agesa, Richard U, 2001. "Migration and the Urban to Rural Earnings Difference: A Sample Selection Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(4), pages 847-65, July.
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