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Out of the Shadows: The Impact of Amnesties on the Lives of Migrants

February 8, 2022




  • The Global South hosts more than 85 percent of refugees, and its countries have implemented a vast diversity of policies concerning refugees’ free mobility, access to safety nets, regular migratory status, and access to a job permit. How is the well-being of refugees affected in the Global South when offered the opportunity to fully integrate into their host communities—that is, be part of the formal sector, regularize their migratory status, and access safety nets?

    The answer is not obvious because regularization is an economic decision that entails both costs and benefits. Developing countries have large informal sectors, and migrants are likely to already be participating in informal labor markets when faced with the decision to regularize. Consequently, the costs of regularization include the risk of being detected and the tax implications of being visible to public authorities, while the benefits include better access to social safety nets, peace of mind, and the opportunity to access better labor conditions in the formal labor market.

    In this Policy Research Talk, World Bank Research Economist Sandra Rozo will discuss her joint work with Ana María Ibáñez and Andrés Moya on the causal effects of a regularization program offered by the Colombian government to nearly half a million Venezuelan refugees in 2018. Their analysis centers on understanding the effects of regularization on refugees’ well-being broadly defined, including income, consumption, mental and physical health, and access to employment. The program’s large and positive effects on the welfare of migrants underlines the substantial benefits of refugee formalization.

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    Sandra Rozo (Speaker)

    Research Economist

    Sandra Rozo is a Research Economist in the Poverty and Inequality Team of the Development Research Group at the World Bank. Her research centers on exploring the effects of forced migration within hosting economies and of the role of public policies in supporting these migrants and their hosting communities. Her work aims to advance our knowledge in three areas: (i) the economic and political impacts of forced migration in developing countries and the mechanisms driving those effects, (ii) the impacts of humanitarian interventions that aim at supporting migrants and locals, and (iii) how to increase social cohesion between migrants and locals.


    Felipe Muñoz (Discussant)

    Head, Migration Unit, IADB

    Since August 2020, Felipe Muñoz has been Head of the Migration Unit of the Inter-American Development Bank. Previously, he was the Presidential Advisor for the Border between Colombia and Venezuela from February 2018, where he coordinated the government response to the migratory flow from Venezuela at the national and local levels, as well as the related efforts of aid workers, international actors and civil society organizations. Previously, he was a senior advisor to the Board of Executive Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank. His extensive experience in the Colombian public sector includes having been superintendent of surveillance and private security, director of the national intelligence agency, and advisor to the Mayor's Office of Bogotá and the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, among other positions.


    Deon Filmer (Chair)

    Director, Development Research Group

    Deon Filmer is Director of the Development Research Group at the World Bank. He has previously served as Acting Research Manager in the Research Group, Co-Director of the World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise, and Lead Economist in the Human Development department of the Africa Region of the World Bank. He works on issues of human capital and skills, service delivery, and the impact of policies and programs to improve human development outcomes—with research spanning the areas of education, health, social protection, and poverty and inequality. He has published widely in refereed journals, including studies of the impact of demand-side programs on schooling and learning; the roles of poverty, gender, orphanhood, and disability in explaining education inequalities; and the determinants of effective service delivery.

  • The monthly Policy Research Talks showcase the latest findings of the World Bank’s research department, challenge and contribute to the institution’s intellectual climate, and re-examine conventional wisdom in current development theories and practice. These talks facilitate a dialogue between researchers and operational staff and inform World Bank operations both globally and within partner countries. Read More »


  • DATE: February 8
  • TIME: 10:00 - 11:30am ET / 3:00 - 4:30pm UTC
  • CONTACT: Michelle Chester