Posts Tagged ‘Migration’

What’s it about Migration

July 31, 2008

One of my goals this Summer is to come up with a topic for my master’s thesis, which will be due at the end of next year.  The broad subject is migration, and I am going to write macro theory.  I currently have a few half-baked ideas, but nothing specific enough yet:

1.  I think migration networks are really important for deciding who migrates and who doesn’t.  When I was in Turkey, it seemed like all the Chinese I knew there were from the same city and China, and all came through connections with family or acquaintances.  There is some literature about this, but not as much as might be justified.  The problem is I can’t think of anything very original to say about it.

2. While migration networks are important for the expansion of migration once it starts, they can’t explain why migration starts in the first place.  In other words, why do some countries have large out-migration while others don’t?  I read an article about Singaporean guest workers just now, and it mentioned Malays, Bangladeshis, Indonesians, and Filipinos.  What about Thais or Vietnamese?  Filipinos, for instance, are famous for migration all over the world.  Why aren’t Afghan’s?  I don’t know the answer to this question, but it might be a good research direction.   There is a parallel to the very well researched question of why countries with similar beginnings have divergent grow paths (like Italy and Germany, say, or South Africa and Zimbabwe).

3. I am also considering writing something about guest worker programs.  This is an important topic for the United States, Japan and the European Union at the moment, but once again, I currently don’t have anything terribly original to add.

Pushing and Pulling towards Taiwan

June 29, 2008

I am taking advantage of my summer vacation to read up on the economics of migration, the topic on which I am going to write my master’s thesis.  Today I read part of one of my adviser’s papers about the effects of migration on fertility.   The underlying factor driving migration in her model is the differential in wages between rich countries and poor countries.  The idea is that the larger income increase an individual can get from migrating, the more likely he is to go.

The idea seems straightforward enough, but then I thought about my adviser herself.  She got her PHD a few years ago from UCLA, and for academics with American degrees there are few barriers to migration.  Combine this with the fact that teaching in Taiwan pays very, very little compared with an American university position (~$30,000/year vs. $94,000/year), and it seems like my adviser’s model would have a hard time explaining her own behavior.  Moreover, every single one of my professors last year at National Taiwan University had an American degree.

I suppose that proximity to one’s family or living in a familiar culture could also be considered wage factors, but with such a large nominal gap, one would not expect so many professors with American degrees to teach at NTU.