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Who Leaves? Deciphering Immigrant Self-Selection from a Developing Country

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  • Randall Akee

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Abstract: Using a novel data set from a developing country, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), I analyze an emigration flow to the United States that has no legal barriers to entry and contains detailed information on the immigrant at home and in the United States. I find that highly educated workers (relative to the home country average) have the highest likelihood of migrating from the FSM to the United States. I also compare the premigration wages for the migrants and an observationally equivalent matched nonmigrant group and find that there is a positive and statistically significant difference between the two groups, indicating that immigrants are also positively selected on unobserved characteristics. The observed selection is consistent with the relatively large differences in home country and destination skill prices at the highest skill levels. Information on the immigrants' characteristics before migration is central to my analysis of determining the nature of immigrant self-selection on both observable and unobservable characteristics. These results are informative of the self-selection of immigration from a small developing country when legal immigration restrictions are removed. (c) 2010 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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  • Randall Akee, 2010. "Who Leaves? Deciphering Immigrant Self-Selection from a Developing Country," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(2), pages 323-344, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:v:58:y:2010:i:2:p:323-344
    DOI: 10.1086/647978
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    3. Clemens, Michael A. & Mendola, Mariapia, 2020. "Migration from Developing Countries: Selection, Income Elasticity, and Simpson's Paradox," IZA Discussion Papers 13612, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Catia Batista & Aitor Lacuesta & Pedro Vicente, 2009. "Micro evidence of the brain gain hypothesis: The case of Cape Verde," Working Papers 0902, Banco de España.
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    7. Gharad Bryan & Shyamal Chowdhury & Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, 2014. "Underinvestment in a Profitable Technology: The Case of Seasonal Migration in Bangladesh," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(5), pages 1671-1748, September.
    8. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan, 2017. "Immigration in American Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1311-1345, December.
    9. Batista, Catia & Lacuesta, Aitor & Vicente, Pedro C., 2007. "Brain Drain or Brain Gain? Micro Evidence from an African Success Story," IZA Discussion Papers 3035, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Timothy J. Halliday & Randall Q. Akee, 2020. "The impact of Medicaid on medical utilization in a vulnerable population: Evidence from COFA migrants," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(10), pages 1231-1250, October.
    11. Emmanuelle Auriol & Alice Mesnard, 2016. "Sale of Visas: a Smuggler's Final Song?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(332), pages 646-678, October.
    12. Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq & Sharif, Iffath & Shrestha, Maheshwor, 2021. "Returns to International Migration: Evidence from a Bangladesh-Malaysia Visa Lottery," IZA Discussion Papers 14232, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Gröger, André, 2021. "Easy come, easy go? Economic shocks, labor migration and the family left behind," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    14. Timothy J. Halliday & Tetine Sentell & Megan Inada & Randall Q. Akee & Jill Miyamura, 2019. "The Impact of Public Health Insurance on Medical Utilization in a Vulnerable Population: Evidence from COFA Migrants," Working Papers 201905, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    15. Batista, Catia & McIndoe Calder, Tara & Vicente, Pedro C., 2014. "Return Migration, Self-Selection and Entrepreneurship in Mozambique," IZA Discussion Papers 8195, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Batista, Catia & Lacuesta, Aitor & Vicente, Pedro C., 2012. "Testing the ‘brain gain’ hypothesis: Micro evidence from Cape Verde," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 32-45.
    17. Michael A. Clemens & Claudio E. Montenegro & Lant Pritchett, 2019. "The Place Premium: Bounding the Price Equivalent of Migration Barriers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 201-213, May.
    18. Gharad Bryan & Shyamal Chowdhury & A. Mushfiq Mobarak, 2011. "Seasonal Migration and Risk Aversion," Working Papers id:4650, eSocialSciences.
    19. Mahé, Clothilde & Naudé, Wim, 2016. "Migration, occupation and education: Evidence from Ghana," MERIT Working Papers 2016-018, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    20. Bensassi, Sami & Jabbour, Liza, 2017. "Return Migration and Entrepreneurial Success: An Empirical Analysis for Egypt," GLO Discussion Paper Series 98, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    21. Gould, Eric D & Moav, Omer, 2008. "When is "Too Much" Inequality Not Enough? The Selection of Israeli Emigrants," CEPR Discussion Papers 6955, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. Catia Batista & Tara McIndoe-Calder & Pedro C. Vicente, 2017. "Return Migration, Self-selection and Entrepreneurship," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 79(5), pages 797-821, October.
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