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Inequality and the self-selection of international migrants: theory and new evidence

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  • Herbert Brücker
  • Cécily Defoort

Abstract

Purpose - The paper seeks to analyse the self-selection of international migrants on observable skills. Design/methodology/approach - Based on an extended version of the Roy model, which considers random migration costs, the authors analyse the self-selection of migrants on observable skills empirically. For this purpose, the authors employ a new panel data set on the educational attainment of migrants, which covers migration from 143 sending countries into the six main receiving countries in the OECD from 1975 to 2000. Findings - Migrants tend to be positively self-selected on observable skills, although the inequality in earnings is larger in the sending country relative to the destination countries. The estimation results indicate that a higher inequality in the distribution of earnings in both the receiving and the sending country affects the skill bias of the migrant population favourably. Moreover, higher migration costs and selective immigration policies increase the skill level of migrants relative to those of stayers in the sending countries. Research limitations/implications - The results may be affected by measurement error, since it was necessary to approximate the returns to education by measures for the inequality of earnings. Practical implications - The paper provides, Originality/value - To the authors' knowledge, this is the first paper to analyse the self-selection of migrants on the basis of a panel data set.

Suggested Citation

  • Herbert Brücker & Cécily Defoort, 2009. "Inequality and the self-selection of international migrants: theory and new evidence," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 30(7), pages 742-764, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:30:y:2009:i:7:p:742-764
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Isaac Ehrlich & Jinyoung Kim, 2015. "Immigration, Human Capital Formation, and Endogenous Economic Growth," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, pages 518-563.
    2. Nifo, Annamaria & Pagnotta, Stefano & Scalera, Domenico, 2011. "The best and brightest. Selezione positiva e brain drain nelle migrazioni interne italiane
      [The best and brightest. Positive selection and brain drain in Italian internal migrations]
      ," MPRA Paper 34506, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Isaac Ehrlich & Jinyoung Kim, 2015. "Immigration, Human Capital Formation, and Endogenous Economic Growth," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, pages 518-563.
    4. Grogger, Jeffrey & Hanson, Gordon H., 2011. "Income maximization and the selection and sorting of international migrants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 42-57.
    5. Kahanec, Martin, 2012. "Report No. 49: Skilled Labor Flows: Lessons from the European Union," IZA Research Reports 49, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Tomáš Otáhal, 2014. "Mises, Hayek and Corruption," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 399-404.
    7. Peter Huber & Julia Bock-Schappelwein, 2013. "The Impact of Migration Policy on Migrants’ Education Structure: Evidence from Austrian Policy Reform," DANUBE: Law and Economics Review, European Association Comenius - EACO, pages 1-21.
    8. Margaret E. Blume-Kohout, 2016. "Why are some foreign-born workers more entrepreneurial than others?," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 41(6), pages 1327-1353, December.
    9. Tinghög, Petter & Carstensen, John & Kaati, Gunnar & Edvinsson, Sören & Sjöström, Michael & Bygren, Lars Olov, 2011. "Migration and mortality trajectories: A study of individuals born in the rural community of Överkalix, Sweden," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 744-751.

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    Keywords

    Migrant workers; Skills; Human capital; Income; Europe;

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