Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

What Economists Can Learn from the Mariel Boatlift, Part Two: Answering Questions about Our Research

Last week I blogged about a research discovery. An influential study had found that a 1980 wave of Cuban refugees into Miami, known as the Mariel Boatlift, had caused the wages of workers there to fall dramatically. In a new paper co-released by CGD and the National Bureau of Economic Research, my co-author and I revealed that large shifts in the racial composition of the underlying survey data could explain most or all of the same fall in wages. The author of the previous study, George Borjas, raised two substantive questions about our research, which I answer briefly in this post.

How the US Immigration Ban Hurts Students, Universities, and the US Economy

Several recent articles about President Trump’s executive order on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries have looked at how it affects thousands of international students all across the US. At stake here is not only their ability to benefit from a US education, but also how the US benefits from having students from those countries at American institutions, in terms of revenue, future productivity, and jobs. My own research, using both administrative and survey data, shows that the costs of this ban to the US will include costs to public universities and lost global talent from abroad. The US is the largest "exporter" of higher education services, and the ban could hit universities with a revenue loss of around $200 million a year, with larger impacts on the local economies around campuses.

How Will President Trump’s Executive Orders Affect Development? CGD Experts Consider the Evidence

Kellyanne Conway called him a “man of action” after a whirlwind first week in which President Trump signed 14 Executive Orders and presidential memoranda, covering most of his key campaign issue areas from health to immigration to trade. In a series of blogs, CGD experts have been examining how some of these specific policy intentions could impact development progress. As you would expect from a group of economists, we believe in—and encourage—evidence-based policymaking, and here we look at what the existing evidence and research tell us about how likely these Executive Orders are to achieve the president’s stated goals.

A Microcosm of US Border Policy toward Mexico

Boquillas del Carmen is a tiny village just over the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park in Texas that experienced a tremendous decline when US authorities closed the border in 2002. For decades, the town’s economy depended on tourists crossing over to enjoy spectacular views of the Chisos Mountains while eating homemade enchiladas at the one or two restaurants in town. Then, some months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US government shut down all unofficial, unmanned border crossings with Mexico, including the one at Boquillas. Suddenly there were no more tourists.

Why the Private Sector Should Harness Brands’ Market Power: "Stop Funding Hate” Campaign Makes Progress as Lego Withdraws Promotions from UK Tabloid

There are two good reasons to harness the market power of iconic brands. First, policymakers and researchers with evidence-based arguments on migration are struggling to combat the hateful rhetoric of the tabloids. Second, the private sector has an important role to play in ensuring global economic prosperity. Among other things, it should use its power to fight the misinformation, ignorance, and hate directed towards the world’s most vulnerable people.

Protection for Survival Migrants: Policy Tweaks for Outsize Impact

More people are now displaced outside their home than at any other time since UNHCR records began; these mass movements will only continue as conflict, disaster, extreme poverty, and other hardships force people to seek safety and opportunity. Unfortunately, most recent policy solutions have been ad hoc and based in fear. Can we do better? CGD and co-host ODI recently convened a panel of experts to discuss the economics and politics of this crucial question.

A Self-Interested Approach to Migration Crises

Recent research overturns the standard narrative about refugee crises: that addressing them mainly means curtailing the conflict and poverty that “push” migrants away from home and slashing the excessive generosity that “pull” them into other countries. Instead, pragmatic and self-interested policymakers should consider that they often waste resources when trying to reduce push factors, and they can spark an inhumane and inefficient race to the bottom by acting individually to reduce pull factors. Through broad international cooperation to get people out of camps and into the labor force, though, they can transform refugees from a burden into an investment.

Remittance Economics 101 for Populist Politicians

Around 1900, many claimed that Italian immigrants were harming the US by sending money abroad. All the way back to 1728, Jonathan Swift believed that outflows of money hurt Ireland. The idea keeps coming back because, if you think about it for a minute, it makes sense. Money buys stuff, and if it buys Mexican stuff, it’s not buying American stuff. But if you think about it for one more minute, it falls apart. Here is a basic course in the economics of remittances for populist politicians. 

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