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The Dynamics of Repeat Migration: A Markov Chain Analysis


  • Amelie F. Constant
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann


While the literature has established that there is substantial and highly selective return migration, the growing importance of repeat migration has been largely ignored. Using Markov chain analysis, this paper provides a modeling framework for repeated moves of migrants between the host and home countries. The Markov transition matrix between the states in two consecutive periods is parameterized and estimated using a logit specification and a large panel data with 14 waves. The analysis for Germany, the largest European immigration country, shows that more than 60% of the migrants are indeed repeat migrants. The out-migration per year is low, about 10%. Migrants are more likely to leave again early after their arrival in Germany, and when they have social and familial bonds in the home country, but less likelywhen they have a job in Germany and speak the language well. Once out-migrated from Germany, the return probability is about 80% and guided mainly by remittances and family considerations.
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Suggested Citation

  • Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2012. "The Dynamics of Repeat Migration: A Markov Chain Analysis," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 362-388, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:intmig:v:46:y:2012:i:2:p:362-388
    DOI: j.1747-7379.2012.00890.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Constant, Amelie F. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2003. "Circular Movements and Time Away from the Host Country," IZA Discussion Papers 960, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Borjas, George J, 1989. "Immigrant and Emigrant Earnings: A Longitudinal Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(1), pages 21-37, January.
    3. DaVanzo, Julie, 1983. "Repeat Migration in the United States: Who Moves Back and Who Moves On?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(4), pages 552-559, November.
    4. Amelie Constant & Douglas S. Massey, 2003. "Self-selection, earnings, and out-migration: A longitudinal study of immigrants to Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 16(4), pages 631-653, November.
    5. Borjas, George J & Bratsberg, Bernt, 1996. "Who Leaves? The Outmigration of the Foreign-Born," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-176, February.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • C44 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Operations Research; Statistical Decision Theory


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