Zsoka Koczan, Magali Pinat, and Mr. Dmitriy L Rozhkov
International migration is an important channel of material improvement for individuals and their offspring. The movement of people across country borders, especially from less developed to richer countries, has a substantial impact in several dimensions. First, it affects the migrants themselves by allowing them to achieve higher income as a result of their higher productivity in the destination country. It also increases the expected income for their offspring. Second, it affects the destination country through the impact on labor markets, productivity, innovation, demographic structure, fiscal balance, and criminality. Third, it can have a significant impact on the countries of origin. It may lead to loss of human capital, but it also creates a flow of remittances and increases international connections in the form of trade, FDI, and technological transfers. This paper surveys our understanding of how migration affects growth and inequality through the impact on migrants themselves as well as on the destination and origin countries.
This paper studies the impact of U.S. immigration barriers on global knowledge production. We present four key findings. First, among Nobel Prize winners and Fields Medalists, migrants to the U.S. play a central role in the global knowledge network—representing 20-33% of the frontier knowledge producers. Second, using novel survey data and hand-curated life-histories of International Math Olympiad (IMO) medalists, we show that migrants to the U.S. are up to six times more productive than migrants to other countries—even after accounting for talent during one’s teenage years. Third, financing costs are a key factor preventing foreign talent from migrating abroad to pursue their dream careers, particularly for talent from developing countries. Fourth, certain ‘push’ incentives that reduce immigration barriers—by addressing financing constraints for top foreign talent—could increase the global scientific output of future cohorts by 42 percent. We concludeby discussing policy options for the U.S. and the global scientific community.