While legalization benefits most unauthorized
immigrants, deciding how to regularize them is challenging
Countries have adopted a variety of legalization
programs to address unauthorized immigration. Research in the US finds
improved labor market outcomes for newly authorized immigrants. Findings are
more mixed for European and Latin American countries where informal labor
markets play a large role and programs are often small scale. Despite
unclear labor market outcomes and mixed public support, legalization will
likely continue to be widely used. Comprehensive legislation can address the
complex nature of legalization on immigrants and on native-born
Having immigrant children in the classroom may
sometimes, but not always, harm educational outcomes of native children
Many countries are experiencing increasing
inflows of immigrant students. This raises concerns that having a large
share of students for whom the host country language is not their first
language may have detrimental effects on the educational outcomes of native
children. However, the evidence is mixed, with some studies finding negative
effects, and others finding no effects. Whether higher concentrations of
immigrant students have an effect on native students differs across
countries according to factors such as organization of the school system and
the type of immigrants.
A common language facilitates communication
and economic efficiency, but linguistic diversity has economic and cultural
In today's globalized world, people are
increasingly mobile and often need to communicate across different
languages. Learning a new language is an investment in human capital.
Migrants must learn the language of their destination country, but even
non-migrants must often learn other languages if their work involves
communicating with foreigners. Economic studies have shown that fluency in a
dominant language is important to economic success and increases economic
efficiency. However, maintaining linguistic diversity also has value since
language is also an expression of people's culture.
Immigration crowds native workers out of risky
jobs and into less strenuous work, with consequent benefits to their
Public debate on immigration focuses on its
effects on wages and employment, yet the discussion typically fails to
consider the effects of immigration on working conditions that affect
workers’ health. There is growing evidence that immigrants are more likely
than natives to work in risky jobs. Recent studies show that as immigration
rises, native workers are able to work in less demanding jobs. Such market
adjustments lead to a reduction in native occupational risk and thus an
improvement in native health.
Economic integration of refugees into their host
country is important and benefits both parties
Refugee migration has increased considerably
since the Second World War, and amounts to more than 50 million refugees.
Only a minority of these refugees seek asylum, and even fewer resettle in
developed countries. At the same time, politicians, the media, and the
public are worried about a lack of economic integration. Refugees start at a
lower employment and income level, but subsequently “catch up” to the level
of family unification migrants. However, both refugees and family migrants
do not “catch up” to the economic integration levels of labor migrants. A
faster integration process would significantly benefit refugees and their
new host countries.
Benefiting from highly skilled immigrants
requires a complementary mix of immigrant selection and economic integration
There is increasing global competition for
high-skilled immigrants, as countries intensify efforts to attract a larger
share of the world's talent pool. In this environment, high-skill immigrants
are becoming increasingly selective in their choices between alternative
destinations. Studies for major immigrant-receiving countries that provide
evidence on the comparative economic performance of immigrant classes
(skill-, kinship-, and humanitarian-based) show that skill-based immigrants
perform better in the labor market. However, there are serious challenges to
their economic integration, which highlights a need for complementary
immigration and integration policies.
Business ownership is higher among immigrants,
but promoting self-employment is unlikely to improve outcomes for the less
Immigrants are widely perceived to be highly
entrepreneurial, contributing to economic growth and innovation, and
self-employment is often viewed as a means of enhancing labor market
integration and success among immigrants. Accordingly, many countries have
established special visas and entry requirements to attract immigrant
entrepreneurs. Research supports some of these stances, but expectations may
be too high. There is no strong evidence that self-employment is an
effective tool of upward economic mobility among low-skilled immigrants.
More broadly prioritizing high-skilled immigrants may prove to be more
successful than focusing on entrepreneurship.
Reliable estimates of taxpayer effects are
essential for complete economic analyses of the costs and benefits of
Taxpayer effects are a central part of the
total economic costs and benefits of immigration, but they have not received
much study. These effects are the additional or lower taxes paid by
native-born households due to the difference between tax revenues paid and
benefits received by immigrant households. The effects vary considerably by
immigrant attributes and level of government involvement, with costs usually
diminishing greatly over the long term as immigrants integrate fully into
Understanding how migration responds to tax
changes will aid in setting the progressivity of a tax system
Decreased transportation costs have led to the
transmission of ideas and values across national borders that has helped
reduce the barriers to international labor mobility. In this context,
high-skilled individuals are more likely to vote with their feet in response
to high income taxes. It is thus important to examine the magnitude of
tax-driven migration responses in developed countries as well as the
possible consequences of income tax competition between nation states. More
specifically, how does the potential threat of migration affect a country’s
optimal income tax policies?
Migrants can have positive political effects on their home
The number of immigrants from developing countries living
in richer, more developed countries has increased substantially during the last decades.
At the same time, the quality of institutions in developing countries has also improved.
The data thus suggest a close positive correlation between average emigration rates and
institutional quality. Recent empirical literature investigates whether international
migration can be an important factor for institutional development. Overall, the
findings indicate that emigration to institutionally developed countries induces a
positive effect on home-country institutions.