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FERDI conference on “International Labor Mobility and Inequality Across Nations"

Çağlar Özden's picture

Academic research and policy thinking on migration and development are gathering more attention as evidenced by a new conference every month. The latest one was titled "International Labor mobility and Inequality Across Nations", hosted by FERDI in Clermont-Ferrand, France on January 23 and 24, 2014. The conference was organized by Simone Bertoli (Université d’Auvergne), Jim de Melo (University of Geneva), and my frequent co-author Frédéric Docquier (from UCLouvain).

Clermont-Ferrand is mid-size city in the center of the country, famous for its cheese and the Michelin headquarters. The program included five invited papers and 24 contributions. The invited papers and some of the regular submissions will come out in a special issue of World Economy. Most of the presenters were young researchers from Europe, indicating the vibrancy of the academic field. The dinner speech was given by Paul Collier from Oxford discussing his latest and very controversial book titled “Exodus.” Dilip Ratha recently discussed Collier’s book in this blog.

I wanted to mention couple of interesting papers. The first presentation was our paper, presented by my co-author Chris Parsons from Oxford on patterns of economic geography and migration. Then Simone presented their paper (with Michel Beine and Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga) on general structure of gravity models in migration followed by Joel Machado’s paper (with Frederic Docquier) on implications of removal of restrictions on skilled migration. The other two invited papers were by Andrew Mounford and Hillel Rapaport on Migration and African Population growth and by Sara Salamone and Maelan Le Goff on Remittances.

The other papers were organized in parallel sessions so I missed some of the interesting papers. A PhD student from Louvain, Michal Burzynski, presented an interesting calibration exercise of joint liberalization of trade and migration policies showing how the former spreads the gains from the latter more evenly across the world. Marion Mercier (PSE) collected great data on political leaders’ migration background and showed how it has a positive effect on democracy. Gaelle Ferrant (OECD) found a positive relationship between gender inequality in social institutions and South-South emigration of women. Guido Neidhofer used an interesting registration database of Italian emigrants to analyze their assimilation in Germany. Michael Siegenthaler (ETH) focused on one of the key questions in the literature – the impact of immigrants on native workers’ labor market outcomes – using the Swiss data. Ben Eisner from IZA addressed another key question – the selection of people into migration – by comparing migration from Norway in the 1880s and Mexico in the 2000s. There were many other interesting papers which are all available at the conference website.

In closing, it is great to see many papers by young researchers addressing numerous issues on migration and its linkages to various economic performance measures. I feel the speed of innovation in terms of data sources, methodologies and the range of questions asked is increasing exponentially.  And I am happy to say the Bank had quite a bit to contribute to the process. We will be co-sponsoring the 7th Migration and Development Conference at Oxford University in June and will post the program in a couple of weeks.

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