Jeffrey Williamson

The Political Economy of World Mass Migration:
Comparing Two Global Centuries

The first global century took place between about 1820 and World War I, and it was
characterized by falling barriers to trade, and to the flows of labor and capital. All three boomed. Since about 1950, the second global century has tried to re-integrate these three markets in the wake of the interwar autarchic retreat. This lecture is about the political economy of immigration in both global centuries. Annual immigration to North America and Oceania rose gradually to the mid 1970s before surging to a million per year in the 1990s. The absolute numbers were by then similar to those reached
during the age of mass migration about a century earlier, but they were smaller relative to the destination country populations that had to absorb them. Thus, the US annual immigration rate fell from 11.6 immigrants per thousand in the 1900s to 0.4 immigrants per thousand in the 1940s, before rising again to 4 immigrants per thousand in the 1990s. The proportion of the US population foreign born had fallen from a 1910 peak of 15 percent to an all-century low of 4.7 percent in 1970.

The postwar immigration boom increased the foreign-born share to more than 8 percent in 1990 and more than 10 percent in 2000. Thus, the US has come two-thirds of the way back to reclaiming the title “a nation of immigrants” after a half-century retreat. While the immigration rate is now only a third of that achieved at its peak in the first decade of the 20th century, the contribution of immigration to population and labor force growth is similar
because the rate of natural increase has also declined. What happened to the United States after World War II also happened world wide.
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Can Immigration Compensatefor Europe’s Low Fertility?
Wolfgang Lutz Sergei Scherbov 

This paper addresses in a systematic demographic manner the
widely discussed question: To what extent can immigration compensate for low fertility in Europe? We begin with a set of 28 alternative scenarios combining seven different fertility levels with four different migration assumptions at the level of the EU-15 to 2050. Next, we address the research question in the context of probabilistic population projections, and the new concept of conditional uncertainty distributions in population forecasting is introduced. Statistically this is done by sorting one thousand simulations into low, medium, and high groups for fertility and migration according to the average levels of paths over the simulation period. The results show a similar picture to that of the probability-free scenarios, but also indicate that for the old-age dependency ratio, the uncertainty about future mortality trends greatly adds to the ranges of the conditional uncertainty distributions. 
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OECD Country Study: Greece
Chapter 5 The Economic Impact Of Migration

Migration has always been an important phenomenon in Greece with large flows of emigration for several decades after the Second World War and large immigration flows since 1990. The cycle of emigration followed by significant return migration to Greece can be seen as part of Greece’s adjustment from a rural economy to an urban one, although there were significant political influences involved as well. The inflow of immigrants during the 1990s was large, possibly raising the share of foreigners in the
population to over 10% and increasing the labour force by between 5 and 10%. Given the rigidities of the formal labour market in Greece, the existence of a substantial informal sector with latent demand for lowpaid labour allowed illegal immigrants to find jobs in large numbers even while structural unemployment among the Greek population remained stubbornly high. While highlighting the effect that labour market interventions such as too-high minimum wages can have in reducing employment opportunities for the
low-skilled, illegal immigration has reduced the economic cost of these restrictions by allowing at least some Greeks to move to higher level jobs, and by increasing output and profitability in a number of sectors. These economic benefits are greater the less the authorities enforce penalties on employers of illegal immigrants, penalties which in principle are quite severe but which in practice seem largely ignored.
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Changing Perspectives On Immigration.
By Edward

Views of immigration are changing. Back in the mists of time, when I first came to the conclusion that ongoing demographic changes were going to be important, the voices in favour of a reconsideration of immigration policy were few and far between. Perhaps the first and most notable of these voices was the UN population division. Now things are different, and a series of recent international conferences and reports highlighting the positive advantages of immigration as an economic motor only serve to underline the fact that discussion of this important topic is very much back on the agenda. continue reading #


What Fundamentals Drive World Migration?
Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey Williamson

OECD governments note rising immigration with alarm and grapple with policies aimed at selecting certain migrants and keeping out others. Economists appear to be well armed to advise governments since they are responsible for an impressive literature that examines the characteristics of individual immigrants, their absorption and the consequences of their migration on both sending and receiving regions. Economists are, however, much less well armed to speak to the determinants
of the world migrations that give rise to public alarm.

This paper offers a quantitative assessment of the economic and demographic fundamentals that have driven and are driving world migration, across different historical epochs and around the world. The paper is organized around three questions: How do the standard theories of migration perform when confronted with evidence drawn from more than a century of world migration experience? How do inequality and poverty influence world migration? Is it useful to distinguish between migration pressure and migration ex-post, or between the potential demand for visas and the actual use of them?

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Migration And Intedration Of Immigrants In Denmark
OECD Economics  Department Working Paper No. 368

Immigration could offer one way for Denmark to expand its labour supply, thereby lowering the dependency ratio, at least for some time, and easing the task of ensuring fiscal sustainability. However, these beneficial effects are obtained only if immigrants are in work. Yet a significant proportion of immigrants have found it quite difficult to get work in Denmark, while the country has been relatively unattractive to high-skilled foreigners. Furthermore, the structure of the economy not only makes it difficult for low-skilled foreigners to gain a foothold in the labour market, but also provides generous social benefits that have caught many of the least skilled immigrants in a benefit trap. A heightened appreciation of these problems, including a tighter focus on the economic situation of the immigrants already present, have underpinned the main changes in policies on immigration in recent years.
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