Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



May 19, 2014

Why Don't Remittances Appear to Affect Growth? - Working Paper 366

While measured remittances by migrant workers have soared in recent years, macroeconomic studies have difficulty detecting their effect on economic growth. We review existing explanations for this puzzle and propose three new ones. First, we offer evidence that a large majority of the recent rise in measured remittances may be illusory—arising from changes in measurement, not changes in real financial flows. 

Michael Clemens and David McKenzie
May 15, 2014

Migration and Development Research Is Moving Far beyond Remittances - Working Paper 365

Research on migration and development has recently changed, in two ways. First, it has grown sharply in volume, emerging as a proper subfield. Second, while it once embraced principally rural-urban migration and international remittances, migration and development research has broadened to consider a range of international development processes. These include human capital investment, global diaspora networks, circular or temporary migration, and the transfer of technology and cultural norms. We present a selection of frontier migrant-and-development research that instantiates these trends.

Michael Clemens , Çağlar Özden and Hillel Rapoport
May 2, 2014

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

Skilled workers emigrate from developing countries in rising numbers, raising fears of a drain on the human and financial resources of the countries they leave. This paper critiques existing policy proposals to address the development effects of skilled migration. It then proposes a new kind of policy tool to regulate skilled migration in a way that benefits origin countries, destination countries, and migrants. ‘Global skill partnerships’ are bilateral public-private agreements to link skill creation and skill mobility for mutual benefit. The paper describes how such an agreement might work in one profession (nursing) and one region (North Africa).

May 1, 2014

A Case against Taxes and Quotas on High-Skill Emigration - Working Paper 363

Skilled workers have a rising tendency to emigrate from developing countries, raising fears that their departure harms the poor. In response, researchers have proposed a variety of policies designed to tax or restrict high-skill migration. Those policies have been justified on grounds of efficiency—making migrants or destination countries liable for harm—as well as on grounds of equity or ethics. This paper challenges regulations of this kind, arguing that they are generally inefficient, inequitable, and unethical. It concludes by discussing a different class of policy intervention that, in contrast, has the potential to raise welfare.

March 18, 2014

Does Development Reduce Migration? - Working Paper 359

Basic economic theory suggests that as poor countries get richer, fewer people want to leave. This idea captivates policymakers in international aid and trade diplomacy. But a long research literature and recent data suggest something very different: Over the course of a “mobility transition”, emigration typically rises with economic development—at least until poor countries reach upper-middle income level, like Algeria or El Salvador. Emigration typically falls only as countries become even richer. This note measures the mobility transition in every decade since 1960, surveys 45 years of research on why it happens, and suggests five questions for further study.