Alícia Adserà, Mariola Pytliková, 08 October 2015

Europe’s refugee crisis has reopened debates about people’s choice of destination when migrating. A particular concern is the extent to which migrants select a host country based on employment prospects and the safety and openness of the society. This column presents evidence of an additional influence – the degree of similarity between migrants’ mother tongues and the language spoken in destination countries. This preference for ‘linguistic proximity’ matters less when migrants move to English-speaking countries.

Andreas Beerli, Giovanni Peri, 17 August 2015

The case for immigration restrictions is periodically debated in the political arena. This column shows that fully opening the border to neighbouring countries increased immigrants to Switzerland only by 4% of the labour force over eight years. Such an increased inflow did not have significant aggregate effects. Highly educated workers, however, benefited in terms of higher wages, while middle-educated ones experienced employment losses.

Enrico Spolaore, Romain Wacziarg, 27 June 2015

Cultural transmission occurs both vertically – from one generation to the next – and, increasingly in modern times, horizontally – within generations and across populations. Using novel data for 74 countries, this column explores how genetic relatedness between populations affects the transmission of cultural traits. A pattern of positive and significant relationships is found between genetic distance and various measures of cultural distance, including language, religion, values, and norms. This implies that populations that are ancestrally closer face lower barriers to learning new ideas and behaviours from each other.

Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri, Greg C. Wright, 17 June 2015

International trade in services and immigration are among the fastest growing aspects of globalisation. Using UK data, this column explores the links between these phenomena. Immigrants promote exports of final services to their home countries, while also reducing imports for some intermediate services, and bringing productivity gains to the labour market. In designing immigration policies, it is important that the potential impact on exports and offshoring activities are carefully considered.

Mathias Czaika, Christopher Parsons, 07 June 2015

Immigration policies can potentially attract and select high-skilled workers. This column provides a new assessment of the effectiveness of migration policies. Points-based (or supply-based) systems increase both the absolute numbers of high-skill migrants and the skill composition of international labour flows. Conversely, demand-driven systems – usually based on the principle of job contingency – are shown to have a rather small, even negative effect.

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