Two World Bank economists scientifically prove that first-world countries pay more than third-world countries:
Ask most people to name the most effective means of raising incomes of people in poor countries, and what would they say?
Microfinance? Perhaps not after the recent experimental assessments.
Deworming? It increased primary school participation and improved health, but in the short-term at least seems unlikely to raise household income.
Conditional cash transfers? This might be a popular answer, with evidence from a number of countries that they have increased household expenditure , schooling, and health outcomes. But even though Governments devote significant resources to such programs, the absolute annual increases in household income and expenditure are still at most US$20-40 per capita for participating households.
I bet that facilitating international migration is not very high up the list of interventions people think of. But it should be. In a new working paper, John Gibson and I evaluate the development impacts of New Zealand’s new seasonal worker program, the RSE. The figure below compares the per-capita income gain we estimate to those from microfinance, CCTs, and from my previous research giving grants of $100-200 to microenterprises. It is simply no contest!
Really? The finding here is that seasonal migrant workers who move to developed countries make much more money than they could were they to participate in economic development projects? The fact that this is even worth the ink it is printed on seems crazy to me. Continue reading