How does income from international migrant labor affect the long-run development of migrant origin areas? We leverage the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis to identify exogenous changes in international migrant income across regions of the Philippines, derived from spatial variation in exposure to exchange rate shocks. The initial shock to migrant income is magnified in the long run, leading to substantial increases in income in the domestic economy in migrant-origin areas; increases in population education; better-educated migrants; and increased migration in high skilled jobs. Four-fifths of long-run income gains are actually from domestic (rather than international migrant) income. A simple structural model yields insights on mechanisms and magnitudes, in particular that one-fifth of long-run income gains are due to increased educational investments in origin areas. Increased income from international labor migration not only benefits migrants themselves, but also fosters long-run economic development in migrant-origin areas.
Written with Emir Murathanoglu (University of Michigan), Caroline B. Theoharides (Amherst College) and Dean Yang (University of Michigan)