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CGD provides rigorous research and innovative policy approaches that enable migrants, refugees, and host communities to prosper.
The Center for Global Development’s (CGD) Program on Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy is focused on ensuring that everyone on the move realizes their full potential. We work to maximize the benefits of migration to destination and origin countries, expand the opportunities available to forcibly displaced people, and reform the humanitarian system to better serve the needs of those affected by conflict and crisis.
We recognize that human mobility can have positive and negative effects, depending on policy choices. We therefore work with policymakers around the world to create sustainable, pragmatic, and evidence-based policies for everyone on the move.
An increasingly common justification for European development assistance to Africa is the notion that it will reduce migration from the South. While this sounds intuitive and makes for an appealing argument, the research shows that it is highly unlikely. As communities become less poor, more people gain the abilities and wherewithal to undertake an expensive journey to a better life elsewhere. Development often increases migration—at least initially.
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.
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.
This annual report marks two milestones in 2016: CGD’s 15th anniversary and, at the end of the year, its first leadership transition, with founding president Nancy Birdsall being succeeded by Masood Ahmed. In this first era, the Center has established itself as an influential voice in international development policy, with a unique model of nonpartisan policy innovation.
Available evidence points to a superior payoff to female migration from gender-unequal countries to more gender-equal countries for the migrant, the sending country, and recipient country alike. This suggests that a policy by relatively gender-equal countries to provide entry preference to female economic migrants from gender-unequal countries would combine development impact and economic self-interest.