Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 977–1005 | Cite as

Stymied ambition: does a lack of economic freedom lead to migration?

  • Daniel Meierrieks
  • Laura Renner
Original Paper


We investigate the relationship between economic freedom and international migration for the 1980–2010 period using a dataset on migration from 91 emerging countries to the 20 most attractive OECD destination countries. We find that more economic freedom at home discourages high-skilled migration, but not low-skilled migration. The negative association between economic freedom and high-skilled emigration also holds when we estimate (dynamic) panel models that allow for endogeneity in the economic freedom-migration nexus. In sum, our findings suggest that high-skilled migration is especially responsive to the economic incentives resulting from economic freedom.


Economic freedom International migration Low-skilled and high-skilled migration 

JEL Classification

F22 J61 



The authors want to thank three anonymous referees, Klaus F. Zimmermann as well as the participants of the 2016 European Public Choice Society Meeting, the 2016 Annual Congress of the European Economic Association and the 2016 Annual conference of the Verein fuer Socialpolitik for their very helpful comments.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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