Migration Fears

on the Rise

ANALYSIS BY: DAN DONATO

Sourcing and methodology: The Migration Fear Index was developed by Economic Policy Uncertainty authors Scott Ross Baker, Nicholas Bloom, and Steven J. Davis. The index is constructed by counting the number of newspaper articles with at least one migration and fear-related term, and then dividing the amount by the total number of newspaper articles (in the same calendar quarter and country). Each country index is normalized to a mean value of 100 from 1995 to 2011.

The Migration Fear Index is an indicator that uses textual analysis of newspaper articles to quantify the intensity of migration-related worries (Economic Policy Uncertainty, 2015). What does it tell us and what can we learn from it? Here are our observations:

  1. Migration-related worries trended upwards over the past few years, with greater intensity in Western Europe than in the United States.

  2. Domestic shocks can play a bigger role than foreign shocks, as they tend to drive significant divergence at the country level (i.e. France in 2005, Germany in 2015, and the UK in recent months).

  3. Nontraditional indicators can be a great way to improve our understanding of political risks (i.e. populism), and anticipate them before they lead to disruptive and unexpected outcomes (i.e. Brexit).

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