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Intentions to Return of Clandestine Migrants: The Perverse Effect of Illegality on Skills

  • Nicola D. Coniglio
  • Giuseppe De Arcangelis
  • Laura Serlenga

In this paper we show that highly skilled clandestine migrants are more likely to return home than migrants with low or no skills when illegality causes "skill waste", i.e. when illegality reduces the rate of return of individual capabilities (i.e. skills and human capital) in the country of destination. In a simple life-cycle framework, illegality is modeled as a tax on skills that reduces the opportunity cost of returning home particularly for the highly skilled. This proposition is tested on a sample of apprehended immigrants that unlawfully crossed the Italian borders in 2003. The estimation confirms that the intention to return to the home country is more likely for highly skilled illegal immigrants. The empirical results of this paper attenuate the common wisdom on the return decisions of legal migrants, according to which low-skill individuals are more likely to go back home (mainly because of negative self-selection). Copyright � 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 13 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 641-657

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Handle: RePEc:bla:rdevec:v:13:y:2009:i:4:p:641-657
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