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There has been growing research interest in the economics of immigration in the past two decades. This renewed interest can be traced back to the resurgence of large immigrant flows in many parts of the world, particularly the United States. The growing research literature has greatly increased our understanding of the factors that induce persons to migrate across countries, and of the impact that this population flow has on economic conditions in the receiving countries. This report summarizes some of the key research findings, and applies the lessons from this research to the potential migration problem faced by countries in the European Union. As the EU expands, there is some concern that wage differences among the current member states and the new entrants, such as Hungary and Poland, may motivate many workers to migrate into the European Union. These concerns are sufficiently serious that they may play an important role in the negotiations between the European Commission and some of the Central and Eastern European countries applying for accession. Overall, the research suggests that the size and direction of migration flows are strongly determined by international differences in economic opportunities, and that the migration flows from the acceding countries to the current member states of the European Union will likely be relatively small.

Publisher: World Bank

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