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.
Mr. Ruben V Atoyan, Lone Engbo Christiansen, Allan Dizioli, Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Mr. Nadeem Ilahi, Ms. Anna Ilyina, Mr. Gil Mehrez, Mr. Haonan Qu, Ms. Faezeh Raei, Ms. Alaina P Rhee, and Ms. Daria V Zakharova
This paper analyses the impact of large and persistent emigration from Eastern European countries over the past 25 years on these countries’ growth and income convergence to advanced Europe. While emigration has likely benefited migrants themselves, the receiving countries and the EU as a whole, its impact on sending countries’ economies has been largely negative. The analysis suggests that labor outflows, particularly of skilled workers, lowered productivity growth, pushed up wages, and slowed growth and income convergence. At the same time, while remittance inflows supported financial deepening, consumption and investment in some countries, they also reduced incentives to work and led to exchange rate appreciations, eroding competiveness. The departure of the young also added to the fiscal pressures of already aging populations in Eastern Europe. The paper concludes with policy recommendations for sending countries to mitigate the negative impact of emigration on their economies, and the EU-wide initiatives that could support these efforts.
Mr. Benedict J. Clements, Mr. Kamil Dybczak, Vitor Gaspar, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, and Mauricio Soto
This Staff Discussion Note looks at the stark fiscal challenges posed by the decline and aging of populations between now and 2100. It finds that without reforms, pensions and health spending would rise to 25 percent of GDP by end-century in more developed countries (and 16 percent of GDP in less developed countries), with potentially dire fiscal consequences. Given the uncertainty underlying the population projections and associated large fiscal risks, a multi-pronged approach will be required. This could include entitlement reform—starting now but at a gradual pace; policies that affect demographics and labor markets; and better tax systems and more efficient public expenditure.
Mr. Shekhar Aiyar, Ms. Bergljot B Barkbu, Nicoletta Batini, Mr. Helge Berger, Ms. Enrica Detragiache, Allan Dizioli, Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Ms. Huidan Huidan Lin, Ms. Linda Kaltani, Mr. Sebastian Sosa, Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo, and Petia Topalova
Against the background of political turmoil in the Middle-East, Europe faces an unprecedented surge in asylum applications. In analyzing the economic impact of this inflow, this paper draws from the experience of previous economic migrants and refugees, mindful of the fact that the characteristics of economic migrants can be different from refugees. In the short-run, additional public expenditure will provide a small positive impact on GDP, concentrated in the main destination countries of Germany, Sweden and Austria. Over the longer-term, depending on the speed and success of the integration of refugees in the labor market, the increase in the labor force can have a more lasting impact on growth and the public finances. Here good policies will make an important difference. These include lowering barriers to labor markets for refugees, for example through wage subsidies to employers, and, in particular, reducing legal barriers to labor market participation during asylum process, removing obstacles to entrepreneurship/self-employment, providing job training and job search assistance, as well as language skills. While native workers often have legitimate concerns about the impact of immigrants on wages and employment, past experience indicates that any adverse effects are limited and temporary.