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Migration in Europe and Central Asia

April 11, 2019

The World Bank HQ, Washington DC

  • The sharp increase in asylum seekers and undocumented migrants has greatly exacerbated public concerns in Europe and Central Asia over immigration in general. Migration presents a stark policy dilemma. Research has repeatedly confirmed that migrants, their families back home, and the countries that welcome them all experience large economic gains. Yet, we see substantial opposition in destination countries where migrants are depicted as the primary causes of many of their economic problems, from high unemployment to declining social services.  

    The ECA Talk on April 11 aimed to address this conflict. Existing income gaps, demographic differences, and rapidly declining mobility costs mean migration will continue to be a key feature of our lives for generations to come. Avoiding draconian policy restrictions and adopting policies that work with, rather than against, labor market forces will be important in maximizing benefits and minimizing costs. 

    But how should policymakers aim to smooth short-run migration-related dislocations to ensure long-term benefits are shared evenly? This panel discussion aims to inform and stimulate policy debate, identify prominent knowledge gaps and facilitate further research in one of the most controversial policy debates of our time.

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    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt

    Chief Economist, Europe and Central Asia, World Bank

    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt is the Chief Economist for the Europe and Central Asia region at the World Bank. Prior to this, Asli was Director of Research in the Development Economics Vice-Presidency. Since joining the Bank in 1989 as a young economist, Asli has held several other positions, including Director of Development Policy, Chief Economist of Financial and Private Sector Development Network, and Senior Research Manager, doing research and advising on financial sector and private sector development issues.


    Sergei Guriev

    Chief Economist, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

    Sergei Guriev is Chief Economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). He advises the EBRD president on economic issues of strategic or operational relevance, leads the EBRD’s economics research agenda, and oversees the Bank’s macroeconomic forecasting and analysis. Guriev received a Dr. Sc. (habilitation degree) in economics and a Ph.D in applied math from the Russian Academy of Science, and earned a M.Sc. from the Moscow Institute of Physics in Technology. Before joining the EBRD, Guriev taught at Princeton University, the New Economic School in Moscow, and Sciences Po in Paris. He has served on several boards, including Sberbank, E.ON Russia, Alfa-Strakhovanie Insurance Company, Russian Home Mortgage Lending Agency and Russian Agricultural Bank. He has held advisory roles at the Bruegel think tank, Peterson Institute on International Economics, and Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government. He is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London.


    Caglar Ozden

    Lead Economist, World Bank Development Research Group

    Caglar Ozden is a Lead Economist with the World Bank’s Development Research Group. A Turkish national and a professional migrant, Ozden received undergraduate degrees in economics and industrial engineering from Cornell University and Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University. Ozden is a fellow with the Institute of Labor Economics in Germany, the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration in London, and the Economic Research Forum in Egypt. His research explores the nexus of globalization of product and labor markets, government policies and economic development. He has edited three books and published numerous papers in leading academic journals such as American Economic Review and the Economic .


  • ECA Talks are chaired by Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia, and hosted by the Europe and Central Asia Region.

    These events facilitate a dialogue on issues of policy interest for the region.

    Visit the Office of the Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia for more information and details.