06 October 2010

Migration: Good for your wallet, not so good for your blood pressure

Over 200 million people live outside their country of birth and experience large gains in material well-being by moving to where wages are higher. But the effect of this migration on health is less clear and existing evidence is ambiguous because of the potential for self-selection bias. In this paper, we use a natural experiment, comparing successful and unsuccessful applicants to a migration lottery to experimentally estimate the impact of migration on measured blood pressure and hypertension…
the results suggest significant and persistent increases in blood pressure and hypertension, which have implications for future health budgets given the recent worldwide increases in immigration.
From a new Working Paper by John Gibson, Steven Stillman, David McKenzie, and Halahingano Rohorua. David McKenzie is an IPA research affiliate and has lots of interesting research on migration.
Don’t say my migration coverage is one-sided.
In other migration news,
Immigrants should pay a bond of £5,000 to cover the costs of using public services, a key ally of David Cameron suggests.
Tory MP Nick Boles – a friend and former aide of the Prime Minister – has urged the Government to impose a ‘surety’ on migrants before granting them visas.
Which almost sounds like Gary Becker’s proposal to charge immigrants for entry. Sounds like a good idea to me. If there are health costs to the public purse from migration and migrants are willing to pay those costs out of their massively increased earnings, then why the hell not?


Matt said...

1). If you're all for migration as a pro-poor strategy, what's with the desire to extract so much consumer surplus?

2). This is just cream-skimming. Most immigrants could paid this tariff ex-post, after their income improves, but who can afford to pay it up front? So suddenly your selecting in the ones who are likely benefiting the least.

3). What's wrong with, oh I don't know, just slapping the same income tax on them that everyone in the UK faces? If my tax payments entitle me to public services, why shouldn't a migrants? Isn't the problem with the selectivity of UK services? (it's sooo easy for non-residents to get treated at the NHS here, etc).

4). Immigrants have a harder-to-quantify benefit on the overall economy. Most intergenerational public services, like pensions, need a young, vibrant workforce to sustain them. In places like the UK, migration keeps these services alive!

5) Tibout says you're wrong. If the UK wants to charge me, I'll just go to [insert country here] instead.

Lee said...

Charging for entry is not my first-best solution, which would be close to "anything goes".

However. Given that:

A. Most of my fellow British citizens do not share my opinions on immigration and see it as a cost,

B. There is a large unmet demand for migration to the UK,

C. There are enormous aggregate efficiency gains to be made from migration,

It would seem that there might be some kind of bargaining solution - a price - at which British people might accept greater levels of migration.

This is just trade theory. There are pareto gains, but those gains are unequally distributed, and we might need to compensate the losers to make it politically feasible.

Philip said...

Or how about, instead of a charge, simply scale back (abolish?) public services?

Lee said...

You tory.

But yeah, that's the empirical argument that Alesina makes - more migration leads to more diverse societies, which makes it harder politically to sustain large welfare states.

Lee said...

I've just revisited Pritchett's "Let their people come" which is a free pdf, but that I can read properly now I have a kindle (they are amazing, buy one now).

He lists a set of "irresistible forces" driving demand for migration, and "immovable ideas" held by host countries which limit access. His solution is a set of "accommodations for politically acceptable, development-friendly migration". Which mainly consist of making temporary unskilled movement possible. I think that the enforceability of temporary movement is a hard sell, so perhaps we should be exploring other types of accommodation.


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