People have always migrated to seek better living conditions elsewhere. Today, international migration flows are mainly driven by the enormous wage differentials across countries. Currently, more than 200 million people live outside their country of birth. Every year, they send remittances worth more than US$ 300 billion to their families back home. International labor migration has important economic, political and social consequences for migrants, their destination and origin countries. Nevertheless, it remains the least-studied aspect of globalization.
Our research concentrates on the effects of international labor migration on migrants themselves, on their families and communities, and more broadly on economic development in the countries of origin. Our ultimate objective is to help design migration policies that enhance the contribution of international labor migration to sustainable economic development.
Some of our larger ongoing projects are presented below. In addition, we also conduct several smaller projects with external coauthors and colleagues at the Kiel Institute.
Social and collective remittances
When people cross borders, they are exposed to new knowledge, ideas and institutions. Migrants may hence absorb new norms, practices, and information and spread them among their families and friends back home. In a globalized world with cheap communication and travel, such flows of ideas may become important drivers of socio-economic and political change in countries with high emigration rates and constitute an important externality of immigration policies. This project analyzes the patterns and consequences of social remittances in the context of Moldova and the Philippines. It also studies the role of migrants in initiating and contributing to community projects in origin countries (collective remittances).
A randomized evaluation of enhanced pre-departure orientation seminars for migrants from the Philippines
Pre-departure orientation seminars (PDOS) for migrants have the potential to become a key policy tool for increasing the benefits of migration for migrants, their families as well as their origin and destination countries at large. PDOS can increase the benefits of migration by providing migrants with the right information to succeed abroad. There is currently however no rigorous evidence on the effectiveness of PDOS and on what kind of training modules matter.
Together with the Philippine government, this project develops new PDOS modules and other supporting policy interventions to improve settlement and labor market outcomes and increase migrants’ wellbeing more generally. Another objective is to strengthen permanent migrants’ engagement in diaspora activities that contribute to development in the Philippines. Based on samples of permanent migrants from the Philippines to the US as well as temporary migrants from the Philippines to Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, the project evaluates the effectiveness of the enhanced PDOS using a randomized control trial.
European immigration and asylum system
In a new project that is about to start we will provide evidence-based policy advice and conduct related academic research on how to improve the European immigration and asylum system. We will work with European researchers, policy-makers, civil society, and other stakeholders to jointly produce knowledge to support the design and implementation of innovative policies. While we will focus on economic challenges, we will take into account all stages of the migration process, including the welfare of migrants themselves, those left behind in migrants’ origin countries, migrants’ integration in their destination countries, and international cooperation in the provision of asylum and employment opportunities in the EU and beyond.
Selected external project partners
André Gröger (University Frankfurt), Hillel Rapoport (Paris School of Economics), Andreas Steinmayr (LMU Munich), Dean Yang (University of Michigan), Asian Institute of Management, Migration Policy Center at the European University Institute, Centre for European Policy Studies.