Voice, Exit, and Liberty: The Effect of Emigration on Origin Country Institutions

This Economic Development Bulletin considers the effect of immigration and emigration in the first world. This study shows that there is scant evidence that those who immigrate to the developed world endanger economic freedom there, but emigrants from the developing world do affect the economic, political, and social institutions in their home countries. Individuals in nations with poor institutions have two ways of changing them, which the authors call “voice and exit” – “voice” meaning voting or protesting, and “exit” meaning emigrating. Emigrants spur institutional convergence by encouraging domestic elites to liberalize institutions, easing the international flow of ideas, and transmitting western institutions, social norms, and themselves to their home institutions. This study examines the evidence on how emigrants who exit and use their voice from abroad can influence the quality of political, economic, and social institutions in their origin countries.

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