Migration and ethnicity

Mobility is important for the functioning of markets and society. Contributions to this subject area deal with issues of national and international mobility, such as demand and supply, and what migration means for natives and migrants and for sending and receiving countries.

  • Do guest worker programs give firms too much power?

    Guest worker programs requiring employer sponsorship can expand global opportunity—and grant employers market power

    Peter Norlander, June 2021
    Guest worker programs allow migrants to work abroad legally, and offer benefits to workers, firms, and nations. Guest workers are typically authorized to work only in specific labor markets, and are sponsored by, and must work for, a specific firm, making it difficult for guest workers to switch employers. Critics argue that the programs harm host country citizens and permanent residents (“existing workers”), and allow employers to exploit and abuse vulnerable foreign-born workers. Labor market institutions, competitive pressures, and firm strategy contribute to the effects of migration that occur through guest worker programs.
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  • The impact of legalizing unauthorized immigrants Updated

    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 residents.
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  • Immigrants in the classroom and effects on native children Updated

    Having immigrant children in the classroom may sometimes, but not always, harm educational outcomes of native children

    Peter Jensen, April 2021
    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.
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  • The value of language skills Updated

    A common language facilitates communication and economic efficiency, but linguistic diversity has economic and cultural value too

    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.
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  • Correspondence testing studies Updated

    What is there to learn about discrimination in hiring?

    Dan-Olof Rooth, January 2021
    Anti-discrimination policies play an important role in public discussions. However, identifying discriminatory practices in the labor market is not an easy task. Correspondence testing provides a credible way to reveal discrimination in hiring and provide hard facts for policies, and it has provided evidence of discrimination in hiring across almost all continents except Africa. The method involves sending matched pairs of identical job applications to employers posting jobs—the only difference being a characteristic that signals membership to a group.
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  • Do immigrants improve the health of native workers? Updated

    Immigration crowds native workers out of risky jobs and into less strenuous work, with consequent benefits to their health

    Osea Giuntella, December 2020
    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.
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  • Racial wage differentials in developed countries Updated

    The variation of racial wage gaps across and within groups requires differing policy solutions

    Simonetta Longhi, October 2020
    In many developed countries, racial and ethnic minorities are paid, on average, less than the native white majority. While racial wage differentials are partly the result of immigration, they also persist for racial minorities of second and further generations. Eliminating racial wage differentials and promoting equal opportunities among citizens with different racial backgrounds is an important social policy goal. Inequalities resulting from differences in opportunities lead to a waste of talent for those who cannot reach their potential and to a waste of resources if some people cannot contribute fully to society.
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  • Integrating refugees into labor markets Updated

    Economic integration of refugees into their host country is important and benefits both parties

    Pieter Bevelander, September 2020
    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.
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  • European asylum policy before and after the migration crisis

    The European migration crisis of 2015–2016 exposed weaknesses in the asylum system that have been only partly addressed

    Tim Hatton, September 2020
    The migration crisis of 2015–2016 threw the European asylum system into disarray. The arrival of more than two million unauthorized migrants stretched the system to its breaking point and created a public opinion backlash. The existing system is one in which migrants risk life and limb to gain (often unauthorized) entry to the EU in order to lodge claims for asylum, more than half of which are rejected. Reforms introduced during the crisis only partially address the system's glaring weaknesses. In particular, they shift the balance only slightly away from a regime of spontaneous asylum-seeking to one of refugee resettlement.
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  • Skill-based immigration, economic integration, and economic performance Updated

    Benefiting from highly skilled immigrants requires a complementary mix of immigrant selection and economic integration policies

    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.
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