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Dissecting Network Externalities in International Migration

  • Michel Beine
  • Frédéric Docquier
  • Caglar Özden

Existing migrant networks play an important role in explaining the size and structure of immigration flows. They affect the net benefits of migration for future migrants by lowering assimilation costs (‘self-selection’ channel) and increase the probability of potential migrants to obtain a visa through family reunification programs (‘immigration policy’ channel). This paper presents an identification strategy allowing to disentangle these two channels. Then, it provides an empirical illustration based on US immigration data by metropolitan area and country of origin. First, we show that the overall network externality is strong: the elasticity of migration flows to network size is around one. Second, only a quarter of this elasticity is accounted for by the policy channel. Third, the policy channel was stronger in the nineties than in the eighties due to more generous family reunion program. Fourth, the global elasticity and the policy contribution are much greater for low-skilled migrants.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3333.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3333
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  1. Winters, Paul C. & de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 1999. "Family And Community Networks In Mexico-U.S. Migration," Working Papers 12907, University of New England, School of Economics.
  2. Santos Silva, J.M.C & Tenreyro, Silvana, 2005. "The Log of Gravity," CEPR Discussion Papers 5311, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Michel BEINE & Frederic DOCQUIER & Caglar OZDEN, 2009. "Diasporas," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2009002, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  4. Bauer, Thomas & Epstein, Gil S & Gang, Ira, 2002. "Herd Effects or Migration Networks? The Location Choice of Mexican Immigrants in the US," CEPR Discussion Papers 3505, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. David Card, 2009. "Immigration and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 14683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Silvana Tenreyro, 2003. "On the trade impact of nominal exchange rate volatility," Working Papers 03-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  8. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks In The Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants In The U.S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599, May.
  9. Serge Coulombe & Jean-Francois Tremblay, 2009. "Migration and Skills Disparities across the Canadian Provinces," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 5-18.
  10. Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina & Ozden, Caglar, 2005. "Brain waste? Educated immigrants in the U.S. labor market," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3581, The World Bank.
  11. Pedersen, Peder J. & Pytlikova, Mariola & Smith, Nina, 2004. "Selection or Network Effects? Migration Flows into 27 OECD Countries, 1990-2000," IZA Discussion Papers 1104, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Grogger, Jeffrey & Hanson, Gordon H., 2011. "Income maximization and the selection and sorting of international migrants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 42-57, May.
  13. Carrington, William J & Detragiache, Enrica & Vishwanath, Tara, 1996. "Migration with Endogenous Moving Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 909-30, September.
  14. Gang, Ira N & Rivera-Batiz, Francisco L, 1994. "Labor Market Effects of Immigration in the United States and Europe: Substitution vs. Complementarity," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 157-75.
  15. Frédéric Docquier & B. Lindsay Lowell & Abdeslam Marfouk, 2009. "A Gendered Assessment of Highly Skilled Emigration," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(2), pages 297-321.
  16. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2009. "On the Existence of the Maximum Likelihood Estimates for Poisson Regression," CEP Discussion Papers dp0932, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  17. David McKenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2007. "Self-selection patterns in Mexico-U.S. migration: The role of migration networks," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0701, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  18. McFadden, Daniel L., 1984. "Econometric analysis of qualitative response models," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 24, pages 1395-1457 Elsevier.
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