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OPTIMAL MIGRATION: A WORLD PERSPECTIVE

Authors

  • Jess Benhabib,

    1. New York University, U.S.A.; New York University, U.S.A.
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  • Boyan Jovanovic

    1. New York University, U.S.A.; New York University, U.S.A.
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    • We thank Jonathan Morduch and the referees for comments, the NSF and the Kauffman Foundation for support, and Matthias Kredler for doing all the computations and producing the associated plots. Please address correspondence to: Boyan Jovanovic, Department of Economics, New York University, 19 W. 4th St. New York, NY 10012. E-mail: bj2@nyu.edu.


  • Manuscript received September 14, 2009; revised December 28, 2010.

Abstract

We ask what level of migration would maximize world welfare. Welfare is assumed to be a weighted average of the utilities of the world’s various citizens, but the weights are also country specific. Using a calibrated one-sector model, we find that unless the weights are heavily biased toward the natives of rich countries, the extent of migration that would be optimal far exceeds the levels observed today. The claim remains true in a two-sector extension of the model. All versions of the model assume that migration is the only redistributive tool.

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