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Alan de Brauw, Senior Research Fellow International, Food Policy Research Institute
Michael Clemens,Co-Director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
In this new World Bank Policy Research Report, Moving for Prosperity: Global Migration and Labor Markets, Çağlar Özden attempts to address the tension between the academic research and the public discourse on migration by focusing on the economic evidence. The report suggests a labor market–oriented, economically motivated rationale as an alternative to the political opposition to migration. Global migration patterns lead to high concentrations of immigrants in certain places, industries, and occupations. These geographic and labor market concentrations of immigrants lead to increased anxiety, insecurity, and potentially significant short-term disruptions among native-born workers.
Understanding (and empathizing with) these legitimate economic concerns is critical to informed and effective policymaking. The goal should be to ease the costs of short-term dislocations of native-born workers and distribute more widely the economic benefits generated by labor mobility. Proactive interventions to ease the pain and share the gain from immigration are essential to avoid draconian restrictions on immigration that will hurt everybody. Ignoring the massive economic gains of immigration would be akin to leaving billions of hundred-dollar bills on the sidewalk.