The Immigration of Norms

By Patrick L. Warren

I wanted to commend a fascinating paper to your attention, "Can I Have Permission to Leave the House? Return Migration and the Transfer of Gender Norms" by Michele Tuccio and Jackline Wahba. In it, Tuccio and Wahba investigate how Jordanian women's self-reported empowerment and employment is affected by having family members return from an international migration spell, and how that change is moderated by the social norms in the country that family member was visiting. Basically, does a returnee from a more progressive country induce different changes in female empowerment than a returnee from a more conservative country? The answer seems to be yes, in the direction you would expect: less empowerment/employment for women from families with returnees from more conservative destinations. These results are robust to various migrant controls and instrumenting for migration and returns by various destination-specific cost/benefit of migration shocks. The results seem important to me and we should keep them in mind when evaluating immigration policy.