By Olivier Charlot, Claire Naiditch and Radu Vranceanu
This paper develops a matching model à la Pissarides (2000) to analyze the migrant smuggling market, building on the empirical evidence related to the smuggling of migrants from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East to the European region in the last decade. The model allows us to determine the equilibrium numbers of smugglers and of incoming irregular migrants as well as the total migrant welfare. Most of the coercion-based measures targeting the smugglers achieve the reduction in the number of irregular migrants and smugglers at the expense of migrants’ overall welfare. Slightly increasing legal migration opportunities has the interesting feature of drastically reducing irregular flows, without deteriorating migrants’ welfare nor increasing the total number of migrants. The model reveals that an extremely restrictive asylum policy has similar effects in terms of the flows of irregular migrants as a quite loose one, with the largest flows of irregular migrants reached for a “middle-range” policy. Finally, the stay-home incentive of generous humanitarian policies might be partially offset by higher profits and a higher smuggling activity.
The main conclusion of this paper: no matter what you do, you will essentially have the same number of immigrants. Thus you may then do what is the best for economic well-being, which is to have regular opportunities for legal immigration. The important question is whether this result applies to other immigration flows.