Preotu, Veronica

Emigration as a Pacifying Force?
2016

Civil conflicts push a significant number of people out of their home countries, as the recentrefugee crisis has shown. But what if emigration itself worked as a pacifying force and, byopening their borders, developed countries could alleviate conflict back home? Using a theorydriveninstrumental variable approach and country level panel data of 117 developing countriesfor the period 1985-2010, I find that emigration to developed countries decreases civil conflictincidence in the countries of origin. The identification strategy relies on comparing conflictlikelihood in countries in years after proximate developed countries become more attractive toconflict likelihood in years after these countries are less attractive. In terms of mechanisms atplay, I find no evidence for the indirect effect of emigration on civil conflict through remittances.In addition, emigration of men reduces the conflict likelihood, while emigration of women hasthe opposite effect. Finally, I document that home political regimes do not worsen followingemigration, which points to the fact that emigration is rather welfare improving. In terms ofpolicy implications, these findings point that, by opening their borders, developed countriescould contribute to saving the lives of the migrants as well as of those left home.