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From a purely economic perspective, migration barriers impoverish the world. Eliminating barriers to labor mobility could add tens of trillions of dollars to global GDP. CGD research in this area brings rigorous economic analysis to a politically charged issue and demonstrates that, throughout history, increasing the number of legal, regulated migrant workers benefits both the counties they live in and leave behind.
‘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.
There are over 25 million refugees in the world today and most of them—especially those in developing countries—do not have formal labor market access (LMA). Granting refugees formal LMA has the potential to create substantial benefits for refugees and their hosts.