Future Directions for Research on Immigration
5 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2011
Date Written: September 2010
How does the international migration of talent affect the creation of knowledge, the organization of work, and the rate of economic growth across nations? In recent decades, much of the intellectual firepower in research on immigration has been aimed at estimating the impact of the inflow of low skilled foreign labor on the economic well being of native-born workers in the United States and other high income countries. For the United States, at least, it is not at all clear that low skilled immigration matters very much for national welfare. In coming decades, it is how the world allocates skilled labor that will help determine which countries advance economically and which do not. Currently, policy makers are setting immigration policy governing skilled labor flows largely in the dark. The literature is yet to produce compelling empirical evidence on the costs and benefits of skilled migration for either origin or destination countries. Future research on immigration should focus on the empirical analysis of how the inflow of skilled foreign labor affects productivity growth and innovation in receiving countries and how the outflow of talent affects prospects for growth and development in sending countries. Sound empirical analysis requires exploiting natural experiments or conducting experiments in the field. Recent events suggest prospects are favorable on both fronts.
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