On the Economic Geography of International Migration

18 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2016

See all articles by Caglar Ozden

Caglar Ozden

World Bank - Research Department

Christopher Parsons

University of Oxford; International Migration Institute

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2016


We exploit the bilateral and skill dimensions from recent data sets of international migration to test for the existence of Zipf's and Gibrat's laws in the context of aggregate and high‐skilled international immigration and emigration using graphical, parametric and non‐parametric analysis. The top tails of the distributions of aggregate and high‐skilled immigrants and emigrants adhere to a Pareto distribution with an exponent of unity, that is Zipf's law holds. We find some evidence in favour of Gibrat's law holding for immigration stocks, such that the growth in stocks is independent of their initial values and stronger evidence that immigration densities are diverging over time. Conversely, emigrant stocks are converging in the sense that countries with smaller emigrant stocks are growing faster than their larger sovereign counterparts. Lastly, high‐skilled immigration and emigration stocks expressed in levels or as densities all exhibit signs of convergence. We conclude by discussing some competing mechanisms that could be driving the observed patterns including differing fertility rates, reductions in emigration restrictions, migrant sorting and selective immigration policies, immigrant networks and persisting wage differentials.

Suggested Citation

Özden, Çaglar and Parsons, Christopher, On the Economic Geography of International Migration (April 2016). The World Economy, Vol. 39, Issue 4, pp. 478-495, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2764583 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/twec.12264

Çaglar Özden (Contact Author)

World Bank - Research Department ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/cozden

Christopher Parsons

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

International Migration Institute ( email )

3 Mansfield Road
Oxford, OX1 3TB
United Kingdom

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