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Migration Experience and Earnings in the Mexican Labor Market

  • Steffen Reinhold
  • Kevin Thom

We present a theoretical and empirical analysis of the relationship between U.S. migration experience and earnings in the Mexican labor market. We use our model to analyze the effects of self-selection and endogeneity on OLS estimates of the return to migration experience in the Mexican labor market. Under plausible assumptions, OLS estimates provide a lower bound on the true average return to migration experience among return migrants. Using Mexican Migration Project (MMP) data, we find a return to migration experience of about 2.2 percent per year. Our estimates are robust to the inclusion of proxies for unobserved skill. A comparison with patterns in the 1995 Mexican Population and Dwelling Count suggests that our results are robust across data sets and are driven by a relationship between migration experience and wages, not hours worked. We also explore the plausibility of multiple mechanisms that could explain this relationship. We find the most evidence for the theory that individuals are acquiring occupation-specific work experience in the United States. The return to a year of occupation-specific migration experience is estimated to be as high as 8.7 percent for some occupations.

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File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/48/3/768
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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 48 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 768-820

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:48:y:2013:iii:1:p:768-820
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  1. Kossoudji, S.A. & Cobb-Clark, D.A., 1996. "Coming Out of the Shadows: Learning About Legal Status and Wages from the Legalized Population," CEPR Discussion Papers 347, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  2. Christian Dustmann & Yoram Weiss, 2007. "Return Migration: Theory and Empirical Evidence," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0702, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  3. Alan Barrett & Jean Goggin, 2010. "Returning to the Question of a Wage Premium for Returning Migrants," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 213(1), pages R43-R51, July.
  4. Manon Domingues Dos Santos & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2003. "Migration as a source of growth: The perspective of a developing country," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 161-175, 02.
  5. Mayr Karin & Peri Giovanni, 2009. "Brain Drain and Brain Return: Theory and Application to Eastern-Western Europe," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-52, November.
  6. Christian Dustmann & Yoram Weiss, 2007. "Return Migration: Theory and Empirical Evidence from the UK," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 45(2), pages 236-256, 06.
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