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Michael Clemens

Senior Fellow

Migration and development, economic growth, aid effectiveness, economic history


Ph.D. (2002), Harvard University, Economics; M.S. (1997), The Johns Hopkins University, Geography and Environmental Engineering; B.S. (1994), California Institute of Technology, Engineering and Applied Science


Michael Clemens is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development where he leads the Migration and Development initiative. His current research focuses on the effects of international migration on people from and in developing countries, and on rigorous impact evaluation for aid projects. He also serves as CGD’s Research Manager, directing the Center’s engagement with the academic research community through peer-review for Center publications, research seminars and conferences, and academic fellowship positions.

Clemens joined the Center after completing his PhD in Economics at Harvard University, where his fields were economic development and public finance, and he wrote his dissertation in economic history. His past writings have focused on the effects of foreign aid, determinants of capital flows and the effects of tariff policy in the 19th century and the historical determinants of school system expansion. Clemens has served as an Affiliated Associate Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University, a visiting scholar at New York University, and as a consultant for the World Bank, Bain & Co., the Environmental Defense Fund, and the United Nations Development Program. He has lived and worked in Colombia, Brazil, and Turkey. In 2013, his research was awarded the Royal Economic Society Prize.

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Beyond the Fence Study Group

July 10, 2014 - 15:24 -- neyflores

The Beyond the Fence Study Group generates rigorous new research to explore how policy decisions on one side of the US-Mexico border ripple to the other side through illicit markets and to inform a policy debate on more bilateral approaches to innovative regulation. The dual meaning of the name represents a desire for researchers to investigate the effects of policy that cross the fence, and for policymakers to reach beyond unilateral enforcement approaches. 

The 2,000 mile border between the United States and Mexico is an economic cliff, the largest GDP per capita differential found at any land border on earth. Across this fault line, the two nations continue a deep and centuries-old exchange of goods, services, investment, labor, culture, and ideas.


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