OECD Development Centre Working Papers

The OECD Development Centre links OECD members with developing and emerging economies and fosters debate and discussion to seek creative policy solutions to emerging global issues and development challenges. This series of working papers is intended to disseminate the OECD Development Centre’s research findings rapidly among specialists in the field concerned. These papers are generally available in the original English or French, with a summary in the other language.

English, French

The economic effects of labour immigration in developing countries

A literature review

This paper reviews existing theoretical and empirical evidence on the economic effects of immigration in developing countries. Specifically, it discusses how immigration may affect labour market, entrepreneurship, human capital, productivity, economic growth, the exchange rate, trade, prices, public finance and public goods in host countries. As the majority of the relevant literature has traditionally focused on the experience of high-income countries, the review highlights the unique context of developing countries and elaborates how outcomes may be similar or differ in low and middle-income countries. A general conclusion is that the economic effects of immigration to developing countries, a numerically important phenomenon, warrants additional theoretical and empirical research.


Keywords: development, immigration
JEL: O1: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development; J61: Labor and Demographic Economics / Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers / Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
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