Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD Policy Blogs

Current search



Labor Mobility and Wages of the Rich Country Poor, Part One: Analysis and Implications of the Mariel Boatlift

George Borjas has a 2015 paper on the Mariel boatlift experience arguing that, although the large and rapid influx of migrants did not affect average wages or low-skill wages, a small, demographically arbitrary, group experienced large negative wage impacts. In this blog post I want to address two technical points about this finding and then address more conceptual points about the policy implications of this general type of finding of distributional impacts in Part Two.

Development's Hopes and Dilemmas in the Country at the Center of the World: Papua New Guinea

In a recent trip to the center of the world, I found myself confronting the big development questions in a low-income country with reasonably propitious circumstances. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is larger, richer, and growing faster than I had thought. It will go to the polls this very month to elect a new government. It is also facing all the dilemmas faced by most low-income countries since the 1950s—political fragmentation, resource curses, income inequality, and poor health. Have we learned anything to help it meet those challenges?

What Economists Can Learn from the Mariel Boatlift, Part Two: Answering Questions about Our Research

Last week I blogged about a research discovery. An influential study had found that a 1980 wave of Cuban refugees into Miami, known as the Mariel Boatlift, had caused the wages of workers there to fall dramatically. In a new paper co-released by CGD and the National Bureau of Economic Research, my co-author and I revealed that large shifts in the racial composition of the underlying survey data could explain most or all of the same fall in wages. The author of the previous study, George Borjas, raised two substantive questions about our research, which I answer briefly in this post.

Preferences for Women Migrants from Gender-Unequal Countries: A Win for Migrants, Host, and Home Countries

The benefits of the migration of women to women themselves, sending, and receiving countries are well-documented. But across the world, women face higher barriers to migration than do men: in accessing the education and work experience that can help qualify them for visas, or in finding the resources necessary to move. And in some countries, women need the permission of husbands or fathers to get a job, to travel, or to obtain a passport. This is a loss to those who want to migrate and a self-inflicted wound on the countries they come from. It is also a loss to destination countries, which are denied the drive and talent of the women who don’t arrive. Recipient countries can help rebalance this inequality with a triple-win policy that benefits migrants, sending countries and themselves alike.

Beyond Brexit: A Triple Win Nursing Partnership to Benefit the NHS and Low-Income Countries

After Brexit, can the UK pursue its own national interest while still benefiting global development? A Global Skills Partnership (GSP) is a bilateral arrangement linking skill creation and skill mobility. The two countries participating in a Partnership craft a pre-migration agreement: targeting a specific skills gap, deciding how to allocate and finance training for potential migrants, and agreeing on employment terms and conditions for participants.

Beyond Brexit: Smarter Labour Policy to Boost Trade, Productivity, and Welfare

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has assured people that post-Brexit labour policy will be about the “cream of the crop,” making sure that high-skilled workers won’t face excessive red tape or heavy-handed visa rules if they want to work in the UK. The “migration problem,” in Hammond’s words, is not with “computer professors, brain surgeons, or senior managers.” A migration policy built on that creaky premise misses at least three key points: gains from trade, mutual productivity, and huge welfare gains.