Remittances and Development (2020)
With H. Fromell and R. Lensink.

In J.Y. Abor, C.K.D. Adjasi, and R. Lensink (eds), Contemporary Issues in Development Finance (pp. 104–39). Routledge.

This chapter highlights the importance of remittances for development, by sketching the magnitude of current and past remittance flows to developing countries and outlines some of the key characteristics of remittances. It discusses the impact of remittances on economic growth and focuses on the relationship between remittances and financial development in the recipient economy. In the context of voluntary labor migration, remittances result from an active migration decision of one or more members of a household aiming to increase the household’s overall income with earnings that are higher than what they would have earned at home. The most important difference between remittances and other sources of external funding of developing countries is that remittances are person-to-person transfers. Using a mutual altruism framework H. Rapoport and F. Docquier show analytically how the volume of the altruistic remittance transfer depends on the altruistic preferences of migrants and recipients as well as on their respective incomes.

Work in Progress

Partisan Influences in Dutch Politics
With Maite Laméris

Under Review at CESifo Economic Studies

We investigate whether and how partisan politics played a role in the Netherlands. To do so, we review existing literature and prepare descriptive statistics from recent datasets. We focus on two related questions: 1) Do we find any signs of partisan politics in the Netherlands? 2) Do developments in party and voter behavior influence the relevance of partisan influences for Dutch governance? Given limited existing research with a macro-level perspective and a focus on the Netherlands, we graphically and descriptively explore the relationship between government ideology and traditional partisan outcome variables, acknowledging the limits of such an investigation. Our descriptive analysis does not suggest a large influence of political ideology on policy-making in the Netherlands, but we observe emerging volatility between changes in government and policy-making since the early 2000s. Exploring the role of party and voter movements, we also document a shifting political landscape in which the potential for traditional partisan influences has become limited.

Cultural Similarity and Migration

Paper | GLO discussion paper | IOS working paper

Theory suggests that cultural similarity increases migration flows between countries. This paper brings best practices from the trade gravity literature to migration to test this prediction. In my preferred specification, I use lags of time-varying similarity variables in a panel of international and domestic migration flows (>200 countries, 1990-2019, 5-year intervals) and estimate a theory-consistent, empirical gravity model with origin-year, destination-year, and corridor fixed effects. The results do not show the hypothesized positive effect of cultural similarity on migration. Instead, religious similarity has a significant negative effect on migration, while WVS-based attitudinal similarities regarding individualism, indulgence, and trust are insignificant. Additional results suggest that cultural selection and sorting can explain these findings, where migrants are attracted by destinations that are culturally similar to their personal cultural beliefs rather than the average cultural beliefs of their home country. Results of a two-stage fixed effects (TSFE) procedure and a gravity-specific matching estimator, which both allow the estimation of time-invariant similarity variables, confirm that the relationship between cultural similarity and migration is more nuanced than previously thought.

The Role of Negative Stereotypes in Work Effort
With Hanna Fromell

We study to what extent exposure to negative stereotypes affects behavior. Theory suggests that when people care about their social identity, negative stereotypes may trigger behaviors in the domain of the stereotype that restore one’s social image. In an online lab experiment, we exogenously vary university students’ perceptions about the prevalence of the stereotype that “young people are lazy” and test whether this affects effort provision in a real effort task. We do not find average treatment effects between students who received information about a high prevalence of the stereotype vs. students who received information about a low prevalence. We also do not find evidence that those who strongly identify as hardworking respond differently to the stereotype compared to those who weakly identify as hardworking. Yet, we find that the migrants in our sample reduce their work effort more than non-migrants when the prevalence of the stereotype is perceived to be high. This suggests that members of minority groups, who often face stereotypes and challenges associated with their social identity, may be vulnerable to additional negative stereotyping.

Measures of International Migration: A comparison of common measures in research
With Hanna Fromell

This paper compares different measures of international migration flows used in research. Because direct measures of migration flows are available only for selected countries, practitioners often use estimates of migration flows. However, which of the various estimates should they use? First, we use a wide range of error statistics for all common estimates of migration flows to test well they approximate actual, recorded migration flows. So-called “demographic accounting” estimates correlate the best with recorded flows and are the most precise estimates (lowest root mean squared error). However, the "migration rates" estimates, which are the least precise, yield the most unbiased estimate of average flow sizes (lowest mean error). Second, we estimate a gravity model using each flow estimate as the dependent variable and compare the resulting coefficients to coefficients from a benchmark model using recorded flows as the dependent variable. Our results suggest that recent “pseudo-Bayesian demographic accounting” estimates yield coefficients that are the most similar compared to the coefficients of the benchmark model. The reverse negative version of the “stock difference” measures also performs well. Yet, overall, our results show that the different estimates can lead to differing conclusions regarding the determinants of international migration in a gravity model.

Future Research Projects