Research in Sociology

Economic impact of refugees

by J. Edward Taylor, Mateusz Filipski (Affiliate in Economics), Mohamad Alloush, Anubhab Gupta, Ruben Irvin Rojas Valdes, and Ernesto Gonzalez-Estrada

The number of refugees displaced by civil conflict or natural disasters is on the rise. Economic impacts of refugees on host countries are controversial and little understood, because data have not been available and the question of refugee impacts does not lend itself to conventional impact evaluation methods. We use a unique Monte Carlo simulation approach with microdata from refugee and host-country surveys to obtain the first estimates of refugee camps’ impacts on surrounding host-country economies and to compare impacts of cash versus in-kind refugee aid. An additional refugee increases total real income within a 10-km radius around two cash camps by significantly more than the aid the refugee receives. Impacts around a camp receiving in-kind (food) aid are smaller.

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Smart Transitions? Foreign Investment, Disruptive Technology, and Democratic Reform in Myanmar Since 2012, Myanmar has transformed from a “pariah state” and one of the world’s least attractive business climates to a “frontier economy” transitioning to a democratic form of government and attracting foreign direct investment from around the world. Driving this new investment is a transnational vision of economic development that seeks to transform Myanmar’s emerging megacity (Yangon) into a “smart city,” incorporating it into the existing transnational archipelago of other smart-city development projects fueling the growth of today’s global, knowledge-capitalist economy. If realized, this vision will undermine Myanmar’s democratic transition because it exacerbates existing sources of inequality, and introduces new ones.

Christina Fink “Myanmar’s Proactive National Legislature” Myanmar’s first multiparty national legislature in 50 years has played an influential role in shaping the country’s reform process and the evolving relationship between citizens and their government. Parliamentarians have used a variety of means to expand their mandate and weigh in on key issues. They have accomplished much more than expected in terms of representation, legislative performance, executive oversight, and constituency services. This is due to the dynamic leadership of key figures in parliament, the tolerance up to a point of senior administration and military personnel, and the effective engagement of civil society organizations.

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We examine the nature and degree of two sources of error in data on migration from Mexico to the United States in Mexican household-based surveys: (1) sampling error that results when whole households migrate and no one is left behind to report their migration; and (2) reporting errors that result when migrants are not identified by survey respondents. Using data from the first two waves of the Mexican Family Life Survey, which tracked Mexican migrants to the United States from 2002 to 2005, we find that one-half of migrants from Mexico to the United States are not counted as a result of these two sources of error. Misreporting is the larger source of error, accounting for more than one-third of all migrants. Those who are not counted, especially whole-household migrants, are a unique group. Their omission results in an underestimate of female migrants, child migrants, and migrants from the Mexican border region, and an overestimate of migrants from the periphery region.

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Imagining Mobility: The Prospective Cognition Question in Migration Research

Koikkalainen, Saara (University of Lapland), and David Kyle

Most migration research is focused on migrant experiences after mobility and settlement. We argue that empirical researchers would benefit from studying how cognitive migration, the narrative imagining of oneself inhabiting a foreign destination prior to the actual physical move, influences migration behaviour. This article notes a gap in our current understanding of the process by which individuals decide to cross international borders and offers an agenda for remedying this. The interdisciplinarity of migration research has not fully extended to social psychology or cognitive social sciences, where a dynamic research agenda has examined human decision-making processes, including prospection and the connections between culture and cognition. The study of socio-cognitive processes in migration decision-making has been largely overlooked because of the after-the-fact nature of data collection and analysis rather than an aversion to these approaches per se. We highlight a number of strategic findings from this diverse field, provide examples of migration scholarship that has benefited from these insights, and raise questions about the sides of migration process that have received insufficient attention. A more nuanced understanding of prospective thinking—imagining potential futures—can shed light on the classic puzzle of why some people move while others in comparable situations do not.

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Rush to the Border? Market Liberalization and Urban- and Rural-Origin Internal Migration in Mexico

Hamilton, Erin R., and Andrés Villarreal

In this study we examine the social and economic factors driving internal migration flows in Mexico. We pay particular attention to the effect that economic liberalization has had in encouraging migration to border cities. Our analysis of the origin and destination of migrants is carried out at a finer level of geographical detail than ever before. Microdata files from the 2000 population census allow us to distinguish urban- and rural-origin migrants to the largest 115 cities and metropolitan areas in the country. Our results indicate that economic liberalization, measured by the level of foreign investment and employment in the maquiladora export industry, strongly influences migrants' choice of destinations. However, economic liberalization fails to fully account for the attraction of the border, as do the higher emigration rates to the United States from border cities. Our analysis also reveals that migrants to the border region and to cities with high levels of foreign investment are younger, less educated and more likely to be men than migrants to other parts of Mexico. Rural migrants are significantly more likely to move to the border and to cities with high levels of foreign investment than urban migrants. The results of our study have important implication for other countries opening their economies to foreign investment and international trade.

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Migration Industries: A Comparison of the Ecuador-US and Ecuador-Spain Cases

Kyle, David, and Rachel Goldstein

There has been growing attention recently in what has been labeled alternatively the “migration industry,” the business of migration, or migration merchants. This paper describes two of the most significant cases of migration industries facilitating large-scale labor migrations from Ecuador to first, New York City and, then, Spain. We compare the organization and impact of these two separate migration industries and their ability to impact key features of Ecuadorians’ labor mobility and settlement at these two destinations. We discuss the historical context of the sending regions and the policies of the destination states to better understand the conditions under which such migration industries can flourish. We argue for a robust conception of migration industries, comprised of a diverse set of formal and informal economic activities, increasingly able to shape migration patterns and outcomes.

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Assimilation and Emerging Health Disparities among New Generations of US Children

Hamilton, Erin R., Jodi Berger Cardoso, Robert A. Hummer, and Yolanda C. Padilla

This article shows that the prevalence of four common child health conditions increases across generations (from first-generation immigrant children to second-generation U.S.-born children of immigrants to third-and-higher-generation children) within each of four major U.S. racial/ethnic groups. In the third-plus generation, black and Hispanic children have higher rates of nearly all conditions. Health care, socioeconomic status, parents’ health, social support, and neighborhood conditions influence child health and help explain third-and-higher-generation racial/ethnic disparities. However, these factors do not explain the generational pattern. The generational pattern may reflect cohort changes, selective ethnic attrition, unhealthy assimilation, or changing responses to survey questions among immigrant groups.

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Development and the Urban and Rural Geography of Mexican Emigration to the United States

Hamilton, Erin R., and Andrés Villarreal

Past research on international migration from Mexico to the United States uses geographically-limited data and analyzes emigrant-sending communities in isolation. Theories supported by this research may not explain urban emigration, and this research does not consider connections between rural and urban Mexico. In this study we use national data from Mexico to investigate rural and urban emigration. We find that a central motivation for emigration – self-insurance through labor market diversification – is most relevant to less rural, non-metropolitan places. Paradoxically, while Mexican cities have the lowest rates of emigration, the rural places that are spatially proximate to cities have the highest rates. These findings suggest that while urban development retains emigrants within city borders, it may generate emigration out of neighboring rural places.

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From Undocumented to DACAmented Impacts of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program Three Years Following its Announcement

Patler, Caitlin and Jorge A. Cabrera

This study assesses DACA’s impacts on the educational and socioeconomic trajectories and health and wellbeing of young adults in Southern California. We compare individuals who received deferred action from deportation and subsequent work authorization through the DACA program with similarly situated undocumented youth who do not have DACA status.

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Aspiring Americans: Undocumented Youth Leaders in California

Terriquez, Veronica and Caitlin Patler

There are approximately 5 million undocumented children and young adults residing in the United States, with 24% (or 1.1 million) living in California alone.1 Many of these young people are actively seeking access to higher education and a pathway to citizenship so they can fully utilize their talents and credentials to contribute to U.S. society. This research brief highlights the experiences of undocumented young adult leaders who belong to immigrant youth organizations in California.

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This article draws upon content analysis of English-language print and online coverage of undocumented immigrants whose anti-deportation campaigns were led by national undocumented youth organisations in the USA. We find that campaigns for undocumented students were more likely to receive coverage than those of non-students. 

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The Economic Impacts of Long-Term Immigration Detention in Southern California

Patler, Caitlin

In 2013, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained over 477,000 immigrants at a cost of over $2 billion (or $161 per detainee, per day). Today, more than 33,000 immigrants are held in ICE custody on any given day. These numbers indicate a sharp expansion in immigration detention. Recently, however, a group of long-term detainees brought a class action lawsuit in the Central District of California. This litigation requires a bond hearing before an immigration judge for noncitizens who have been continuously held in detention for 180 days, including certain classes of mandatory detainees.

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