The World Bank has recently published the report “Moving for Prosperity: Global Migration and Labor Markets”. Global labor mobility can be a potent tool in the fight to end poverty, but better labor market policies in destination countries can ensure everyone shares the benefits of migration.
The rich have many assets; the poor have only one—their labor. Because good jobs are slow to come to the poor, the poor must move to find productive employment. Migration is, therefore, the most effective way to reduce poverty and share prosperity, the twin goals of the World Bank. Not surprisingly, all development experiences and growth episodes in history have involved a reallocation of labor across space and sectors within countries.
According to “Moving for Prosperity: Global Migration and Labor Markets”, however, some of the biggest gains come from the movement of people between countries. Migrants’ incomes increase three to six times when they move from lower- to higher-income countries. The average income gain for a young unskilled worker moving to the United States is estimated to be about $14,000 per year. If we were to double the number of immigrants in high-income countries by moving 100 million young people from developing countries, the annual income gain would be $1.4 trillion. This global welfare gain dwarfs the gains from the removal of all restrictions on international flows of goods and capital.
Download the report here.