Mr. Jesus R Gonzalez-Garcia, Mr. Ermal Hitaj, Mr. Montfort Mlachila, Arina Viseth, and Mustafa Yenice
Amid rapid population growth, migration in sub-Saharan Africa has been increasing briskly over the last 20 years. Up to the 1990s, the stock of migrants—citizens of one country living in another country—was dominated by intraregional migration, but over the last 15 years, migration outside the region has picked up sharply. In the coming decades, sub-Saharan African migration will be shaped by an ongoing demographic transition involving an enlargement of the working-age population, and migration outside the region, in particular to advanced economies, is set to continue expanding. This note explores the main drivers of sub-Saharan African migration, focusing on migration outside the region, as this has greater global spillovers. It finds that the economic impact of migration for the region occurs mainly through two channels. First, the migration of young and educated workers—brain drain—takes a toll as human capital is already scarce in the region, although some recent studies suggest that migration may have also a positive effect—brain gain. Second, remittances represent an important source of foreign exchange and income in a number of sub-Saharan African countries, contribute to the alleviation of poverty, and help smooth business cycles.
Ms. Florence Jaumotte, Ksenia Koloskova, and Ms. Sweta Chaman Saxena
The recent refugee surge has brought attention to the macro-critical policy issue of migration, including speculations that migration can be an unfavorable phenomenon for the receiving economies. A careful examination of the impact of migration on host economies is thus critical. Focusing on the economic impact, most of the academic discussion has centered on the effect of migration on labor markets and public finances. Much less is known about the long-term impact of immigration on the GDP per capita (or the standard of living) of host economies. This note makes three contributions to estimating this impact: it uses a restricted sample of advanced economies rather than a mixed sample of higher- and lower-income host countries, it examines whether the GDP per capita impact varies for different skill levels of migrants, and it goes beyond the aggregate impact of migration on GDP per capita to examine how broadly gains in this regard are shared across the population. In particular, it examines whether migration impacts the income levels of those both at the top and at the bottom of the earnings distribution, or whether gains are instead concentrated in a small group of high earners. It finds that immigration significantly increases GDP per capita in advanced economies, that both high- and lower-skilled migrants can raise labor productivity, and that an increase in the migrant share benefits the average income per capita of both the bottom 90 percent and the top 10 percent of earners, suggesting the gains from immigration are broadly shared.