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Migrant Networks and Trade: The Vietnamese Boat People as a Natural Experiment

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Christopher Parsons, Pierre Louis Vézina

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F210-F234
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number612
Early online date29 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

King's Authors


We exploit a unique event in human history, the exodus of the Vietnamese Boat People to the US, to provide evidence for the causal pro‐trade effect of migrants. This episode represents an ideal natural experiment as the large immigration shock, the first wave of which comprised refugees exogenously allocated across the US, occurred over a 20‐year period during which time the US imposed a complete trade embargo on Vietnam. Following the lifting of trade restrictions in 1994, US exports to Vietnam grew most in US states with larger Vietnamese populations, themselves the result of larger refugee inflows 20 years earlier.

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