Category Archives: Migration

Do We Understand Refugees?

While there is a large amount of academic research on why people may have negative attitudes towards migrants, we still have little information on are the main issues faced by stakeholders such as charities providing support to immigrants and refugees.

In June 2022 we organised focus groups and interviews with various charities and produced two story boards illustrating two important points. First, the “them versus us” rhetoric is flawed since people who are apparently different, often have various things in common (Nothing in Common?). Second, the common narrative that tax payers’ money is wasted hosting refugees in expensive hotels misses the point that this is a temporary solution that refugees would like to escape as soon as possible (Missed Opportunity?).

What Determines Attitudes to Immigration in European Countries? An Analysis at the Regional Level

Different disciplines within the social sciences have produced large theoretical and empirical literatures to explain the determinants of anti-immigration attitudes. We bring together these literatures in a unified framework and identify testable hypotheses on what characteristics of the individual and of the local environment are likely to have an impact on anti-immigration attitudes. While most of the previous literature focuses on the explanation of attitudes at the individual level, we focus on the impact of regional characteristics (the local context). Our aim is to explain why people living in different regions differ in terms of their attitudes towards immigration. We isolate the impact of regions from regressions using individual-level data and explain this residual regional heterogeneity in attitudes with aggregate-level indicators of regional characteristics. We find that regions with a higher percentage of immigrants born outside the EU and a higher unemployment rate among the immigrant population show a higher probability that natives express negative attitudes to immigration. Regions with a higher unemployment rate among natives, however, show less pronounced anti-immigrant attitudes.

Markaki Y., Longhi S. (2013) What Determines Attitudes to Immigration in European Countries?  An Analysis at the Regional Level, Migration Studies, 1(3) 311-337.

Joint Impacts of Immigration on Wages and Employment: Review and Meta-analysis

A burgeoning literature has emerged during the last two decades to assess the economic impacts of immigration on host countries. In this paper, we outline the quantitative approaches presented in the literature to estimate the impact of immigration on the labour market, particularly at the regional level. We then revisit the joint impacts of immigration on wages and employment using a meta-analytic approach. As a novel contribution to previous meta-analyses on labour market impacts, we use a simultaneous equations approach to the meta-analysis of wage and employment effects. Using 129 effect sizes, we find that the observed local wage and employment effects are very small indeed. Generally, the employment impact is more pronounced in Europe than in the United States. Controls for endogeneity show a somewhat more negative impact. Wage rigidity increases the magnitude of the employment impact on the native born. The demarcation of the local labour market in terms of geography and skills matters also.

Longhi S., Nijkamp P., Poot J. (2010) Joint Impacts of Immigration on Wages and Employment: Review and Meta-analysis, Journal of Geographical Systems, 12 (4) 355-387.

Meta-analyses of Labour Market Impacts of Immigration: Key Conclusions and Policy Implications

The number of immigrants across the world has doubled since 1980. The estimates of the impact of immigration on wages and employment in host countries are quantitatively small but vary widely. We summarize previous meta-analyses of the empirical literature and consider the implications for policy. We conclude that, on average, the impact on employment of the native born is smaller than on wages, while impacts are generally smaller in the US than in other countries studied to date. The variation in the estimates is related to the definition of the labour market, the extent of substitutability of foreign and native workers, and controls for endogeneity of immigrant settlement in statistical modelling. Policies enhancing labour-market flexibility, while at the same time improving immigrant economic integration, are likely to be effective in reducing transitory negative impacts.

Longhi S., Nijkamp P., Poot J. (2010) Meta-analyses of Labour Market Impacts of Immigration: Key Conclusions and Policy Implications, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 28 (5) 819-833.

Meta-analysis of Empirical Evidence on the Labour Market Impact of Immigration

The increasing proportion of immigrants in the population of many countries has raised concerns about the ‘absorption capacity’ of the labour market, and fuelled extensive empirical research in countries that attract migrants. In previous papers we synthesized the conclusions of this empirical literature by means of meta-analyses of the impact of immigration on wages and employment of native-born workers. While we have shown that the labour market impacts in terms of wages and employment are rather small, the sample of studies available to generate comparable effect sizes was severely limited by the heterogeneity in study approaches. In the present paper, we take an encompassing approach and consider a broad range of labour market outcomes: wages, employment, unemployment and labour force participation. We compare 45 primary studies published between 1982 and 2007 for a total of 1,572 effect sizes. We trichotomise the various labour market outcomes as benefiting, harming or not affecting the native born, and use an ordered probit model to assess the relationship between this observed impact and key study characteristics such as type of country, methodology, period of investigation and type of migrant.

Longhi S., Nijkamp P., Poot J. (2008) Meta-analysis of Empirical Evidence on the Labour Market Impact of Immigration, Région et Développement, 27 (1) 161-191.
IZA Discussion Paper 3418

The Impact of Immigration on the Employment of Natives in Regional Labour Markets: A Meta-Analysis

Immigration is a phenomenon of growing significance in many countries. Increasing social tensions are leading to political pressure to limit a further influx of foreign-born persons on the grounds that the absorption capacity of host countries has been exceeded and social cohesion threatened. There is also in public discourse a common perception of immigration resulting in economic costs, particularly with respect to wages and employment opportunities of the native born. This warrants a scientific assessment, using comparative applied research, of the empirical validity of the perception of a negative impact of immigration on labour market outcomes. We apply meta-analytic techniques to 165 estimates from 9 recent studies for various OECD countries and assess whether immigration leads to job displacement among native workers. The ‘consensus estimate’ of the decline in native-born employment following a 1 percent increase in the number of immigrants is a mere 0.024 percent. However, the impact is somewhat larger on female than on male employment. The negative employment effect is also greater in Europe than in the United States. Furthermore, the results are sensitive to the choice of the study design. For example, failure to control for endogeneity of immigration itself leads to an underestimate of its employment impact.

Longhi S., Nijkamp P., Poot J. (2008) The Impact of Immigration on the Employment of Natives in Regional Labour Markets: A Meta-Analysis, in Migration and Human Capital, ed. by J. Poot, B. Waldorf, and L. van Wissen, Edward Elgar: 173-193.
Also published as: The Fallacy of “Job Robbing”: A Meta-Analysis of Estimates of the Effect of Immigration on Employment, Journal of Migration and Refugee Issues, 1(4) 131-152 (2005).
IZA Discussion Paper 2044

A Meta-Analytic Assessment of the Effect of Immigration on Wages

In our increasingly interconnected and open world, international migration is becoming an important socioeconomic phenomenon for many countries. Since the early 1980s, many studies about the impact of immigration on host labour markets have been undertaken. Borjas (2003) noted that the estimated effect of immigration on the wage of native workers varies widely from study to study and sometimes even within the same study. In addition, these effects cluster around zero. Such a small effect is a rather surprising outcome, given that in a closed competitive labour market an increase in labour supply may be expected to exert a downward pressure on wages. We revisit this issue by applying meta‐analytic techniques to a set of 18 papers, which altogether generated 348 estimates of the percentage change in the wage of a native worker with respect to a 1 percentage point increase in the ratio of immigrants over native workers. While many studies in our database employ US data, estimates are also obtained from Germany, The Netherlands, France, Norway, Austria, Israel and Australia. Our analysis shows that results vary across countries and are inter alia related to the type of modelling approach. Technical issues such as publication bias and quality of the estimates are addressed as well.

Longhi S., Nijkamp P., Poot J. (2005) A Meta-Analytic Assessment of the Effect of Immigration on Wages, Journal of Economic Surveys, 19 (3) 451-477.