IfW in the News

Border Walls Don’t Stop Immigration, but They Do Undermine Integration


Oped by Tobias Stöhr and Claas Schneiderheinze about how border walls change who migrates and immigrates

Excerpt from the article

(…) However, building border walls does impact who migrates. People who attempt the crossing of a newly reinforced border will be those with the highest expected benefits of crossing the border after considering all the involved expected costs and their alternatives.

First, this group will consist of people overestimating the gains from reaching a particular country, i.e., especially those who are poorly informed. Illegal immigrants lacking information are unlikely to be a good fit with the destination country, either economically or socially.

Second, this group will include those with actual high returns at the destination and, importantly, no better alternative. Given that illegal immigrants typically will not receive a working permit, this restricts them to the informal sector. When informal work is someone’s best alternative, it is likely they have some country-specific skills, networks that facilitate finding informal work, and a low education level.

This means that the share of migrants will increase from countries that already have important relationships with the destination country or family connections. More people will come from countries that already have a large diaspora and few other options.

Complete article