With rising international migration, how
transferable are benefits, and how can transferability be increased?
The importance of benefit portability is
increasing in line with the growing number of migrants wishing to bring
acquired social rights from their host country back to their country of
residence. Failing to enable such portability risks impeding international
labor mobility or jeopardizing individuals’ ability to manage risk across
their life cycle. Various instruments may establish portability. But which
instrument works best and under what circumstances is not yet
Labor productivity is generally seen as bringing
wealth and prosperity; but how does it vary over the business cycle?
Aggregate labor productivity is a central
indicator of an economy’s economic development and a wellspring of living
standards. Somewhat controversially, many macroeconomists see productivity
as a primary driver of fluctuations in economic activity along the business
cycle. In some countries, the cyclical behavior of labor productivity seems
to have changed. In the past 20–30 years, the US has become markedly less
procyclical, while the rest of the OECD has not changed or productivity has
become even more procyclical. Finding a cogent and coherent explanation of
these developments is challenging.
One-company towns concentrate employment but
their ability to adapt to adverse events is often very limited
One-company towns are a relatively rare
phenomenon. Mostly created in locations that are difficult to access, due to
their association with industries such as mining, they have been a marked
feature of the former planned economies. One-company towns typically have
high concentrations of employment that normally provide much of the funding
for local services. This combination has proven problematic when faced with
shocks that force restructuring or even closure. Specific policies for the
redeployment of labor and funding of services need to be in place instead of
subsidies simply aimed at averting job losses.
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?
Consistent measures of migration are needed to
understand patterns and impacts on labor market outcomes
International migration alters the
socio-economic conditions of the individuals and families migrating as well
as the host and sending countries. The data to study and to track these
movements, however, are largely inadequate or missing. Understanding the
reasons for these data limitations and recently developed methods for
overcoming them is crucial for implementing effective policies. Improving
the available information on global migration patterns will result in
numerous and wide-ranging benefits, including improved population
estimations and providing a clearer picture of why certain migrants choose
The relationship between migration and natural
events is not straightforward and presents many complexities
The relationship between climatic shocks,
natural disasters, and migration has received increasing attention in recent
years and is quite controversial. One view suggests that climate change and
its associated natural disasters increase migration. An alternative view
suggests that climate change may only have marginal effects on migration.
Knowing whether climate change and natural disasters lead to more migration
is crucial to better understand the different channels of transmission
between climatic shocks and migration and to formulate evidence-based policy
recommendations for the efficient management of the consequences of
Concepts of citizenship are not universally
defined and need rethinking
Citizenship laws are changing in many countries.
Although cross-national differences in the laws regulating access to
citizenship are today not as large as they were several decades ago, they
are still very apparent. Globally, there is convergence over some
citizenship policy dimensions, but there is not a general convergence over
“liberal” or “restrictive” approaches to citizenship policy. A growing body
of research has put forward various comparative measures of citizenship and
migrant integration policies. However, selecting the “right” index is a
challenging task, and the underlying dynamics of citizenship laws are not
easy to interpret as they differ across countries.
Ethnic capital produced by local concentration of immigrants
generates greater economic activity
Immigrants can initially face significant difficulties
integrating into the economy of the host country, due to information gaps about the local
labor market, limited language proficiency, and unfamiliarity with the local culture.
Settlement in a region where economic and social networks based on familiar cultural or
language factors (“ethnic capital”) exist provides an effective strategy for economic
integration. As international migration into culturally diverse countries increases, ethnic
networks will be important considerations in managing immigration selection, language
proficiency requirements, and regional economic policies.
While legalization benefits most undocumented
immigrants, deciding how to regularize them is challenging
Addressing unauthorized immigration is
controversial. Countries have adopted a variety of legalization programs,
ranging from temporary visa programs to naturalization. Research in the US
focused on past amnesty programs finds improved labor market outcomes for
newly legalized immigrants. Findings are more mixed for European countries.
Studies suggest that regularization of undocumented immigrants can result in
increased use of public benefits and reduced formal labor market
participation. Despite widespread disagreement, legalization is widely used
Availability of bilateral data on migratory flows has
renewed interest in using gravity models to identify migration determinants
Gravity models have long been popular for analyzing
economic phenomena related to the movement of goods and services, capital, or even
people; however, data limitations regarding migration flows have hindered their use in
this context. With access to improved bilateral (country to country) data, researchers
can now use gravity models to better assess the impacts of migration policy, for
instance, the effects of visa restriction policies on migration flows. The
specification, estimation, and interpretation of gravity models are illustrated in
different contexts and limitations of current practices are described to enable
policymakers to make better informed decisions.