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Poverty, Inequality, and International Migration: Insights from 10 Years of Migration and Development Conferences

David McKenzie ()

Revue d’économie du développement, 2017, vol. 25, issue 3, 13-28

Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the main findings from the last decade of scholarship on the poverty-inequality-migration nexus. The compilation of new datasets at both the cross-country and micro levels has provided a better understanding of how poverty and inequality play important roles in determining both the level of migration and the selection of who migrates. Contrary to simple theories of income maximization and popular perception, migrants are not overwhelmingly drawn from the poorest households within a country, or poorest countries. The consequence is that income growth and development can lead to more, rather than less, migration from many developing countries. There is also no simple relationship between inequality in origin countries and migration, since inequality affects migration in several counteracting ways. Innovative studies have then used a variety of modern econometric methods to estimate the causal impacts of migration on poverty and inequality. All studies find enormous gains in income for those individuals who do voluntarily migrate from developing to developed countries, which typically lowers poverty and inequality at a global level. However, impacts on poverty and inequality within developing countries themselves depend on who gets to migrate: poverty falls more when networks are large or when migration policies provide more options for unskilled workers to migrate, while within-country inequality may rise at first if skill-selective policies and liquidity constraints prevent the poor from benefiting from migration. JEL Codes: F22, O15, I32.

Keywords: international migration; poverty; inequality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F22 I32 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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