Trade and Development Seminar with Melanie Morten (Stanford)

Missing migrants: Border closures as a labor supply shock, joint with Dave Maré and Lynda Sanderson

We study the economic impact of the March 2020 closure of the New Zealand border. The border closed in the middle of the fall RSE arrival season, causing seasonal migrants to not enter the country as planned. We identify firms that were expecting workers but the workers did not arrive before the border closure and compare these firms to other firms where the workers arrived just before the border closure. We study the firm-level response to these `missing migrants'. Did affected firms hire other workers? Did wages need to increase to do so? Was productivity lower as a result? We find that firms without migrants employed other workers --  a combination of working holiday makers and New Zealand citizens/residents -- and did not face lower employment levels. We find no evidence that firms without migrants increased wages for other workers. We find suggestive evidence that firms without migrants faced a productivity loss of up to 8\%, but this result is statistically insignificant.

Speaker =  Melanie Morten (Stanford)

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