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Essays in the economics of migration

Ludolph, Lars (2021) Essays in the economics of migration. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004342


This thesis comprises four empirical essays that examine different issues in the economics of migration. The common theme to all four essays is the idea that migration is a phenomenon with economic implications for the country of origin, migrants themselves and the destination country. To reap the benefits of migration, it is necessary to understand the challenges and barriers at the various stages of the migratory journey that could reduce welfare and that may require policy interventions - or changes in policy - to overcome them. The research carried out within this PhD project aims to make a contribution to our understanding of the economic aspects of these challenges. The first essay examines a stage of the humanitarian migration process from developing to developed countries that has thus far been underexplored in economics: The journey itself. Asylum seekers migrating from developing countries to Europe frequently experience victimisation events during their journey. The essay links these potentially traumatic events to economic integration outcomes in Germany, one of the main recipient countries of asylum seekers during the 2015 migration crisis. The study shows that physical victimisation during the journey to Germany is strongly associated with significantly lower mental well-being upon arrival in the destination. The effect on the victimised also leads to a "loss of future directedness", which distorts one of the major decisions newly-arrived migrants have to make: Compared to non-victimised migrants, physically victimised refugees are more likely to engage in part-time and marginal employment instead of pursuing host-country education in the first years after arrival. The second essay follows up on these findings. The essay analyses the long-term value of formal host-country education for refugees vis-à-vis those the same level of education attained in the country of origin. The study deploys 22 years of Austrian microcensus data and analyses the labour market position of forcibly displaced young Bosnians who arrived in Austria during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. Exploiting the age at the time of forced migration as an instrument for the probability of receiving host-country instead of origin country education, the results show that attaining a formal degree in the hostcountry significantly reduces the probability of working in low-quality jobs even after more than two decades of stay in the hosting country. The third essay shifts the focus to the early stage of the migration process: It studies 5 the role of household income in developing countries in the decision to send a household member as a labor migrant. The essay analyses the effect of exogenous global crop price changes on migration from agricultural households and finds that migration rates from very poor households indeed increase when the world market price of locally-grown crop rises. The finding suggests that for these households, additional income can relax their liquidity constraint and facilitate migration. The fourth and final essay then turns the attention back to the destination country. The study analyses the impact of the large, unexpected and spatially heterogenous migration wave from Central and Eastern European countries following their EU accession in 2004 on local level redistributive spending in England. While the arrival of migrants indeed affected public spending and locally generated revenue, the study finds no evidence that these changes in local service provision are driven by a decrease in the local willingness to redistribute following the arrival of outsiders. Rather, the results suggest that the demographic characteristics of Central and Eastern European migrants, in particular their young age, reduced demand for locally supplied social care services.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Lars Ludolph
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Crescenzi, Riccardo and Holman, Nancy

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