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Ethnic discrimination and the migration of skilled labor

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  • Docquier, Frederic
  • Rapoport, Hillel

Abstract

We consider a small open developing economy, whose population is bifurcated into a majority and a minority group, the latter lacking political influence. Agents are heterogeneous in skills, and decide whether to invest in education when young and whether to migrate in their adulthood. Assuming a rent-extraction basis for discrimination, we first endogenize ethnic discrimination in the benchmark case of an economy closed to migration, and then explore how migration prospects affect ethnic inequality. Under the free migration assumption, we find the intuitive result that migration prospects have a protective effect on the minority. Moreover, the optimal discrimination rate (from the majority’s perspective) is shown to be such that there is no migration at equilibrium, unless the distribution of individuals’ skills exhibits marked asymmetries. Last, we find that immigration restrictions set by receiving countries have the paradoxical effect of creating migration flows which would otherwise have remained latent.
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Suggested Citation

  • Docquier, Frederic & Rapoport, Hillel, 2003. "Ethnic discrimination and the migration of skilled labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 159-172, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:70:y:2003:i:1:p:159-172
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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