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Do migrants really foster trade ? the trade-migration nexus, a panel approach 1960-2000

  • Parsons, Christopher R.

Despite the burgeoning empirical literature providing evidence of a strong and robust positive correlation between trade and migration, doubts persist as to unobserved factors which may be driving this relationship. This paper re-examines the trade-migration nexus using a panel spanning several decades, which comprises the majority of world trade and migration in every decade. First the findings common to the literature are reproduced. Country-pair fixed effects are then used to account for unobserved bilateral factors, the implementation of which removes all of the positive impact of migration on trade. In other words the unobserved factors, a leading candidate for which it is argued is international bilateral ties, are on average strongly and positively correlated with migrant networks. Dividing the world into the relatively affluent North and poorer South, the results show that migrants from either region only affect Northern exports to the South. This is intuitive since in general countries of the North export more differentiated products and information barriers between these regions are greatest. A country-level analysis further shows that migrants may both create and divert trade. Taken as a whole, the results demonstrate the large biases inherent in cross-sectional studies investigating the trade-migration nexus and highlight the extent to which previous results have been overstated.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6034.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6034
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  1. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Lafourcade, Miren & Mayer, Thierry, 2005. "The trade-creating effects of business and social networks: evidence from France," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-29, May.
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  8. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  9. Subhayu Bandyopadhyay & Cletus C. Coughlin & Howard J. Wall, 2005. "Ethnic Networks and U.S. Exports," Working Papers 05-15 Classification- JEL, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
  10. Scott L. Baier & Jeffrey H. Bergstrand, 2005. "Do free trade agreements actually increase members’ international trade?," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2005-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  11. Head, Keith & Mayer, Thierry & Ries, John, 2008. "The Erosion of Colonial Trade Linkages After Independence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6951, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Ashok Deo Bardhan & Subhrajit Guhathakurta, 2004. "Global Linkages of Subnational Regions: Coastal Exports and International Networks," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(2), pages 225-236, 04.
  13. Francesc Ortega & Giovanni Peri, 2009. "The Causes and Effects of International Labor Mobility: Evidence from OECD Countries 1980-2005," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2009-06, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revised Apr 2009.
  14. Mark G. Herander & Luz A. Saavedra, 2005. "Exports and the Structure of Immigrant-Based Networks: The Role of Geographic Proximity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 323-335, May.
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