New Evidence on Emigrant Selection
This paper examines the extent to which Mexican emigrants to the United States are negatively selected, that is, have lower skills than individuals who remain in Mexico. Previous studies have been limited by the lack of nationally representative longitudinal data. This one uses a newly available household survey, which identifies emigrants before they leave and allows a direct comparison to non-migrants. I find that, on average, US bound Mexican emigrants from 2000 to 2004 earn a lower wage and have less schooling years than individuals who remain in Mexico, evidence of negative selection. This supports the original hypothesis of Borjas (AER, 1987) and argues against recent findings, notably those of Chiquiar and Hanson (JPE, 2005). The discrepancy with the latter is primarily due to an under-count of unskilled migrants in US sources and secondarily to the omission of unobservables in their methodology.
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