nep-mig New Economics Papers
on Economics of Human Migration
Issue of 2008‒12‒01
five papers chosen by
Yuji Tamura
Australian National University

  1. Migration and Social Change: Some Conceptual Reflections By Alejandro Portes
  2. The Adaptation of the Immigrant Second Generation in America: Theoretical Overview and Recent Evidence By Alejandro Portes; Patricia Fernandez-Kelly; William Haller
  3. Labor supply responses to large social transfers: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa By Cally Ardington; Anne Case; Victoria Hosegood
  4. Immigration and low birthweight in the US: The role of time and timing By Lisa M. Bates; Julien O. Teitler
  5. Trade, Remittances, Institutions, and Economic Growth By Thanh Le

  1. By: Alejandro Portes (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Examining the multiple ways in which migration relates to social change is a daunting task. It requires, first of all, defining what social change is and, secondarily, delimiting the scope of analysis to certain types of migration and not others. The greatest dangers that I envision in this enterprise are, first, getting lost in generalities of the “social change is ubiquitous” kind and, second, attempting to cover so much terrain as to lose sight of analytic priorities and of major, as opposed to secondary, causal linkages. I seek to avoid these dangers by discussing first the concept of social change, second identifying the types of migration to be considered, and third examining the major factors that link one to another. I conclude the paper with four theoretical and methodological considerations suggested by the analysis that may guide future work in this field.
    Date: 2008–08
  2. By: Alejandro Portes (Princeton University); Patricia Fernandez-Kelly (Princeton University); William Haller (Clemson University)
    Abstract: This paper summarizes a research program on the new immigrant second generation initiated in the early 1990s and completed in 2006. The four field waves of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) are described and the main theoretical models emerging from it are presented and graphically summarized. After considering critical views of this theory, we present the most recent results from this longitudinal research program in the forum of quantitative models predicting downward assimilation in early adulthood and qualitative interviews identifying ways to escape it by disadvantaged children of immigrants. Quantitative results strongly support the predicted effects of exogenous variables identified by segmented assimilation theory and identify the intervening factors during adolescence that mediate their influence on adult outcomes. Qualitative evidence gathered during the last stage of the study points to three factors that can lead to exceptional educational achievement among disadvantaged youths. All three indicate the positive influence of selective acculturation. Implications of these findings for theory and policy are discussed.
    Date: 2008–06
  3. By: Cally Ardington (University of Cape Town); Anne Case (Princeton University); Victoria Hosegood (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies)
    Abstract: In many parts of the developing world, rural areas exhibit high rates of unemployment and underemployment. Understanding what prevents people from migrating to find better jobs is central to the development process. In this paper, we examine whether binding credit constraints and childcare constraints limit the ability of households to send labor migrants, and whether the arrival of a large, stable source of income – here, the South African old-age pension – helps households to overcome these constraints. Specifically, we quantify the labor supply responses of prime-aged individuals to changes in the presence of pensioners, using longitudinal data collected in KwaZulu-Natal. Our ability to compare households and individuals before and after pension receipt, and pension loss, allows us to control for a host of unobservable household and individual characteristics that may determine labor market behavior. We find that large cash transfers to elderly South Africans lead to increased employment among prime-aged members of their households, a result that is masked in cross-sectional analysis by differences between pension and non-pension households. Pension receipt also influences where this employment takes place. We find large, significant effects on labor migration upon pension arrival. The pension’s impact is attributable both to the increase in household resources it represents, which can be used to stake migrants until they become self-sufficient, and to the presence of pensioners who can care for small children, which allows prime-aged adults to look for work elsewhere.
    JEL: O12 H31 J20
    Date: 2008–01
  4. By: Lisa M. Bates (Columbia University); Julien O. Teitler (Columbia University)
    Abstract: The literature exploring the health consequences of immigration is largely dominated by efforts to replicate, across outcomes and populations, and explain two widely observed findings: that foreign nativity is protective (yielding the “healthy migrant effect” or “immigrant paradox”) and that the health advantage of immigrants diminishes over time in the host country. In this study, we focus on the second of these patterns and provide evidence that a lifecourse perspective can help to explain the apparent deterioration in health by incorporating attention to immigrants’ timing of arrival. We examine the role of immigrants’ exposure to the US, in terms of both age at immigration and length of residence, in shaping birthweight, a well measured and consequential marker of health, and maternal smoking, an important risk factor for low birthweight.
    Date: 2008–07
  5. By: Thanh Le (MRG - School of Economics, The University of Queensland)
    Abstract: This paper empirically investigates the role of trade, remittances, and institutions in economic development in a large sample of developing countries using recently developed instruments for all these variables. Both cross country (over 30 years) and dynamic panel data (over 5-year periods) regressions of growth rates on instrumented trade, remittances, and institutions provide evidence of a significant impact of trade, institutions, and remittances on growth. While institutions foster growth, remittances hamper it. The effect of trade on growth is positive in cross sectional regressions but ambiguous in dynamic panel data regressions. These results are indicative of a more important role for trade in explaining growth in the very long run than over shorter horizons.

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