Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2630295
 


 



The New Economic Case for Migration Restrictions: An Assessment


Michael A. Clemens


Center for Global Development; IZA-Institute for the Study of Labor

Lant Pritchett


Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Center for Global Development

February 22, 2016

Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 423

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.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 55

Keywords: Immigration, migration, migrant, wages, impact, globalization, labor, GDP, productivity

JEL Classification: F22, J61, O11


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Date posted: February 25, 2016  

Suggested Citation

Clemens, Michael A. and Pritchett, Lant, The New Economic Case for Migration Restrictions: An Assessment (February 22, 2016). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 423. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2630295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2630295

Contact Information

Michael Andrew Clemens (Contact Author)
Center for Global Development ( email )
2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States
IZA-Institute for the Study of Labor ( email )
HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/profile?key=4270
Lant Pritchett
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4562 (Phone)
617-496-2554 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://ksghome.harvard.edu/~lpritch/
Center for Global Development
2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States
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