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Cover of Working Paper 501
January 31, 2019

Measuring the Spatial Misallocation of Labor: The Returns to India-Gulf Guest Work in a Natural Experiment - Working Paper 501

‘Guest workers’ earn higher wages overseas on temporary low-skill employment visas. This wage gap can be used to measure gaps in the productivity of workers due to where they are, not who they are. This paper estimates the effects of guest work on Indian applicants to a construction job in the United Arab Emirates, where an economic crisis allocated guest work opportunities as-good-as-randomly among several thousand families. Guest work raised the return to poor families' labor by a factor of four, with little evidence of systematic fraud.

Cover of 'How Global Businesses Can Improve Refugee Labor Market Access—and Why They Should'
October 9, 2018

How Global Businesses Can Improve Refugee Labor Market Access—and Why They Should

Many of the world’s 25 million refugees spend years struggling to provide for themselves or contribute fully to their host economies because they are legally barred from working or owning businesses. Granting refugees formal labor market access unlocks a range of benefits—for refugees, hosts, and global businesses.

Cover of "Migration Is What You Make It"
May 30, 2018

Migration Is What You Make It: Seven Policy Decisions that Turned Challenges into Opportunities

Policymakers and voters reasonably want to know what the effects of immigration are, to help them decide how much immigration there should be. But the effects of immigration are highly contingent on wherewhenhow, and who. We must ask a more fruitful question: how can different policy choices generate positive economic effects from immigration and avoid negative ones? Immigration is not inherently “good” or “bad.” Its effects depend on the context and the policy choices that shape it.

Cover of the brief "Can Development Assistance Deter Emigration?"
February 12, 2018

Can Development Assistance Deter Emigration?

As waves of migrants have crossed the Mediterranean and the US Southwest border, development agencies have received a de facto mandate: to deter migration from poor countries. Will it work? Here we review the evidence on whether foreign aid has been directed toward these “root causes” in the past, whether it has deterred migration from poor countries, and whether it can do so.

Photo of a stethoscope and other medical supplies
October 11, 2017

Global Skill Partnerships: A Proposal for Technical Training in a Mobile World (Brief)

Within a decade, Europe will require hundreds of thousands more nurses than it is likely to train. To meet the growing need, nurses will move in large numbers to Western Europe from other countries, including those in Eastern Europe. But Eastern Europe currently lacks nurses already relative to Western Europe, while Eastern European youths crave opportunities in skilled employment. How can nurses trained in Eastern Europe move to Western Europe in a way that benefits both regions?

Photo of a Syrian woman who was displaced
October 11, 2017

Global Skill Partnerships: A Proposal for Technical Training in Settings of Forced Displacement

The world urgently needs innovation to shape how international migration happens. Today people who are forcibly displaced are seen and treated largely as a burden, not as a resource that can bring shared benefits. A new type of private-public partnership can offer new opportunity for some of those who are forcibly displaced. It can be called a Global Skill Partnership, and this note illustrates how it might work for Syrians displaced into Turkey.

cover of working paper 463
October 6, 2017

Testing for Repugnance in Economic Transactions: Evidence from Guest Work in the Gulf - Working Paper 463

Workers from poor countries can find enormous economic opportunity by working temporarily in a rich country. But agencies that fight global poverty do little to facilitate guest work. This may be because guest workers are perceived to typically suffer negative side effects that outweigh the benefits. This paper uses a natural experiment to test several perceptions of harmful side-effects on Indian guest workers in the Gulf. The research shows little evidence that the harmful side-effects often ascribed to guest work are typical and systematic, though this does not contradict the occurrence of many individual cases of harmful side-effects.

July 27, 2017

Violence, Development, and Migration Waves: Evidence from Central American Child Migrant Apprehensions - Working Paper 459

This paper studies the relationship between violence in the Northern Triangle and child migration to the United States. It finds that one additional homicide per year in the region, sustained over the six-year period of study—that is, a cumulative total of six additional homicides—caused a cumulative total of 3.7 additional unaccompanied child apprehensions in the United States. The explanatory power of short-term increases in violence is roughly equal to the explanatory power of long-term economic characteristics like average income and poverty.

Working Paper 455 (revised) cover
May 22, 2017

The Labor Market Effects of Refugee Waves: Reconciling Conflicting Results - Working Paper 455

An influential strand of research has tested for the effects of immigration on natives’ wages and employment using exogenous refugee supply shocks as natural experiments. Several studies have reached conflicting conclusions about the effects of noted refugee waves such as the Mariel Boatlift in Miami and post-Soviet refugees to Israel. As a whole, the evidence from refugee waves reinforces the existing consensus that the impact of immigration on average native-born workers is small, and fails to substantiate claims of large detrimental impacts on workers with less than high school.

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