Michael A. Clemens

Research Fellow

Center for Global Development

Michael Clemens is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, where he studies the economic effects and causes of migration around the world. He has published on migration, development, and impact evaluation, in peer-reviewed academic journals including the American Economic Review, and his research has been awarded the Royal Economic Society Prize. He also serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Population Economics and World Development. He is the author of the book The Walls of Nations, forthcoming from Columbia University Press. Previously, Clemens has been an Affiliated Associate Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University, a visiting scholar at New York University, and a consultant for the World Bank, Bain & Co., the Environmental Defense Fund, and the United Nations Development Program. He has lived and worked in Colombia, Brazil, and Turkey. He received his PhD from the Department of Economics at Harvard University, specializing in economic development, public finance, and economic history.

He joined IZA as a Research Fellow in September 2014.



IZA Discussion Paper No. 11061
forthcoming in: Journal of Legal Studies

Despite the large individual benefits of guest work by the poor in rich countries, agencies charged with global poverty reduction do little to facilitate guest work. This may be because guest work is viewed as a repugnant transaction – one whose harmful side-effects might cause third parties to discourage it....

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10928

A recent surge in child migration to the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala has occurred in the context of high rates of regional violence. But little quantitative evidence exists on the causal relationship between violence and international emigration in this or any other region. This paper studies the...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10806

An influential strand of research has tested for the effects of immigration on natives' wages and employment using exogenous refugee supply shocks as natural experiments. Several studies have reached conflicting conclusions about the effects of noted refugee waves such as the Mariel Boatlift in Miami and post-Soviet refugees to Israel....

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10548
Michael A. Clemens, Hannah M. Postel
published in: IZA Journal of Labor & Development, 2017, 6:4

We report a small-sample, preliminary evaluation of the economic impact of temporary overseas work by Haitian agricultural workers. This work occurs in the United States in the context of a pilot program designed as a form of post-disaster development assistance to Haiti. We find that the effects of matching new...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10512
forthcoming in: American Economic Review, 2018

An important class of active labor market policy has received little rigorous impact evaluation: immigration barriers intended to improve the terms of employment for domestic workers by deliberately shrinking the workforce. Recent advances in the theory of endogenous technical change suggest that such policies could have limited or even perverse...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10492

The effect of foreign labor on native employment within an occupation depends on native labor supply to that occupation – which is rarely directly measured – even if native and foreign labor are perfect substitutes in production. This paper uses two natural quasi-experiments to directly compare foreign to native labor...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9789
conditional acceptance in: Review of Economics and Statistics

Large international differences in the price of labor can be sustained by differences between workers, or by natural and policy barriers to worker mobility. We use migrant selection theory and evidence to place lower bounds on the ad valorem equivalent of labor mobility barriers to the United States, with unique...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9730
revise and resubmit

For decades, migration economics has stressed the effects of migration restrictions on income distribution in the host country. Recently the literature has taken a new direction by estimating the costs of migration restrictions to global economic efficiency. In contrast, a new strand of research posits that migration restrictions could be...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9218
published in: International Journal of Manpower, 2016, 37 (7): 1227-1248.

This paper critiques the last decade of research on the effects of high-skill emigration from developing countries, and proposes six new directions for fruitful research. The study singles out a core assumption underlying much of the recent literature, calling it the Lump of Learning model of human capital and development,...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9000
published in: Journal of Economic Surveys, 2017, 31 (1): 326-342

The welcome rise of replication tests in economics has not been accompanied by a single, clear definition of replication. A discrepant replication, in current usage of the term, can signal anything from an unremarkable disagreement over methods to scientific incompetence or misconduct. This paper proposes an unambiguous definition of replication,...