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Migration and development, economic growth, aid effectiveness, economic history
Michael Clemens is co-director of migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, where he studies the economic effects and causes of migration around the world. He has published on migration, development, economic history, and impact evaluation, in peer-reviewed academic journals including the American Economic Review, and his research has been awarded the Royal Economic Society Prize. He also serves as a Research Fellow at the IZA Institute of Labor Economics in Bonn, Germany, an Associate Editor of the Journal of Population Economics and World Development. He is the author of the book The Walls of Nations, forthcoming from Columbia University Press. Previously, Clemens has been an Affiliated Associate Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University, a visiting scholar at New York University, and 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. He received his PhD from the Department of Economics at Harvard University, specializing in economic development, public finance, and economic history.
Are your wages determined by what you know, or where you are? This paper estimates how the wages of workers in 42 developing countries would change if the same people could work in the United States. It uses a rich new database on over two million workers around the world. A worker from the median country would earn about 2.7 times as much in the US as at home. This means that (1) for many countries, the wage gaps caused by barriers to movement across international borders are among the largest known forms of wage discrimination; (2) these gaps represent one of the largest remaining price distortions in any global market; and (3) simply allowing labor mobility can reduce a given household’s poverty to a much greater degree than most known antipoverty interventions inside developing countries.
International migration has long been a central tool in the battle against global poverty and inequality, but the recent heated political debate over immigration reform has largely failed to recognize how migration shapes the development process. In this essay, research fellow Michael Clemens and co-author Sami Bazzi outline five major reasons why migration is a development issue in today’s world, and they suggest an agenda for the next U.S. administration to make U.S. migration policy work for the United States, for countries of origin, and for the migrants themselves.
The economic potential of globalization may ultimately depend on the international mobility of highly talented individuals who transfer and circulate knowledge and skills. Examples are seen throughout the globe of these skilled individuals utilizing ideas, capital and innovation to contribute to new technologies and business creation, both in their own countries and abroad. In today's globalized economy, the concept of "brain drain" is given a fresh look when highlighting the positive impacts of talent mobility on development.
On April 2, Global Economy and Development at Brookings will host the release of a new publication, The International Mobility of Talent Types, Causes, and Development Impact Track (Oxford University Press, 2008), in coordination with the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University. Panelists will discuss the main determinants and development impact of talent mobility and how there is much to gain within the global economy if it is effectively managed. Experts include: Andres Solimano, AnnaLee Saxenian, Michael Clemens and Danny Leipziger. Brookings Nonresident Fellow Neil G. Ruiz will provide introductory remarks and moderate the discussion.
After the program, panelists will take audience questions. At the conclusion of the event there will be a reception in the Somers Room.
Data on the average income of a resident of Ecuador is easy to find. But until now there has been no data on the average income of a person born in Ecuador, regardless of where she or he lives. In this paper, research fellow Michael Clemens and non-resident fellow Lant Pritchett introduce a new dataset, income per natural: the mean annual income of persons born in a given country regardless of residence. Turns out that defining things this way makes a big difference, and not just for tiny nations. Income per natural differs by more than 10% from income per resident for dozens of countries including Vietnam, Kenya and Morocco. In other words, one of the largest sources of increased income for people in many parts of the developing world is moving to another country.