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Emigration and human capital: who leaves, who comes back and what difference does it make?

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  • Aitor Lacuesta

    () (Banco de España)

Abstract

This paper studies the loss of human capital that emigration generates in the country of origin. To that end I estimate the human capital distribution of emigrants had they not migrated. Unlike previous studies, I take into account the selection of migrants in terms of unobserved characteristics that affect their productivity. Wages in Mexico of those migrants who come back home after being abroad for some time will be crucial to learn something about the selection of non-returning migrants in terms of unobserved productivity. To test whether returning migrants' wages contain any useful information, I follow two steps. First, I use the model of Borjas and Bratsberg (1986) to show that, regardless of the cause for coming back, the distribution of abilities of non-returning migrants is more similar to the distribution of temporary migrants than to that of non-migrants. Moreover, I test some implications of the model in the data. Second, I show that returning migrants' wages reflect their pre-emigration productivity and are not affected by possible human capital gains derived from the decision to emigrate. Taking into account all this evidence, I use returning migrants' wages in Mexico upon return to estimate the distribution of human capital of non-returning migrants had they not migrated. I show that emigrants come form the middle part of the distribution of human capital in the origin country. I find evidence that taking unobserved human capital factors into account is relevant for the dispersion of the estimated distribution as well as for each of its quantiles. Moreover, it does not greatly affect the aggregate mean of human capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Aitor Lacuesta, 2006. "Emigration and human capital: who leaves, who comes back and what difference does it make?," Working Papers 0620, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
  • Handle: RePEc:bde:wpaper:0620
    as

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    File URL: http://www.bde.es/f/webbde/SES/Secciones/Publicaciones/PublicacionesSeriadas/DocumentosTrabajo/06/Fic/dt0620e.pdf
    File Function: First version, August 2006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fabiani, S. & Druant, M. & Hernando, I. & Kwapil, C. & Landau, B. & Loupias, C. & Martins, F. & Mathä, T. & Sabbatini, R. & Stahl, H. & Stockman, A., 2005. "The Pricing Behaviour of Firms in the Euro Area: New Survey Evidence," Working papers 135, Banque de France.
    2. Luis J. Álvarez & Emmanuel Dhyne & Marco Hoeberichts & Claudia Kwapil & Hervé Le Bihan & Patrick Lünnemann & Fernando Martins & Roberto Sabbatini & Harald Stahl & Philip Vermeulen & Jouko Vilmunen, 2006. "Sticky Prices in the Euro Area: A Summary of New Micro-Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 575-584, 04-05.
    3. Galindo, Arturo & Izquierdo, Alejandro & Montero, Jose Manuel, 2007. "Real exchange rates, dollarization and industrial employment in Latin America," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 284-298, December.
    4. K. C. Fung & Alicia Garcia-Herrero & Hitomi Iizaka & Alan Siu, 2005. "Hard Or Soft? Institutional Reforms And Infrastructure Spending As Determinants Of Foreign Direct Investment In China," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 56(4), pages 408-416.
    5. Hernando, Ignacio & Álvarez, Luis J., 2005. "The price setting behaviour of Spanish firms: evidence from survey data," Working Paper Series 538, European Central Bank.
    6. Luis J. Álvarez & Pablo Burriel & Ignacio Hernando, 2010. "Price-setting behaviour in Spain: evidence from micro PPI data," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(2-3), pages 105-121.
    7. Silvia Fabiani & Martine Druant & Ignacio Hernando & Claudia Kwapil & Bettina Landau & Claire Loupias & Fernando Martins & Thomas Mathä & Roberto Sabbatini & Harald Stahl & Ad Stokman, 2006. "What Firms' Surveys Tell Us about Price-Setting Behavior in the Euro Area," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 2(3), September.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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 for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Malone, Lauren, 2007. "Migrants’ Remittances and Investments in Children’s Human Capital: The Role of Asymmetric Preferences in Mexico," Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series qt23n6s2p3, Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    emigration; human capital; productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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