The Labour Market Effects of Immigration and Emigration in OECD Countries


  • We thank four anonymous referees and the Editor in charge, for very helpful comments and suggestions. This study was funded by the project ‘Brain drain, return migration and south–south migration: impact on labour markets and human capital’ supported by the Austrian, German, Korean and Norwegian governments through the Multi-donor Trust Fund on Labour Markets, Job Creation and Economic Growth administered by the World Bank's Social Protection and Labour unit. The first author also acknowledges financial support from the Belgian French-speaking Community (convention ARC 09/14-019). We thank Massimo Anelli, Francesco D'Amuri, Paul Gaggl, Francesc Ortega, Kevin Shih and participants to seminars at Bocconi University, the OECD, the World Bank, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Copenhagen Business School, University of Helsinki and IZA-World Bank conference in Mexico for valuable comments and suggestions. The findings, conclusions and views expressed are entirely those of the authors and should not be attributed to the World Bank, its executive directors or the countries they represent.


In this study, we quantify the labour market effects of migration flows in OECD countries during the 1990s based on a new global database on the bilateral stock of migrants, by education level. We simulate various outcomes using an aggregate model of labour markets, parameterised by a range of estimates from the literature. We find that immigration had a positive effect on the wages of less educated natives and it increased or left unchanged the average native wages. Emigration, instead, had a negative effect on the wages of less educated native workers and increased inequality within countries.