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Human Capital Formation, Asymmetric Information, and the Dynamics of International Migration


  • Nancy H. Chau
  • Oded Stark


We consider the case in which the opening up of an economy to migration results in departure of skilled workers. We point out that while the possibility of migration changes the set of employment opportunities, it also affects the structure of incentives: Higher returns to skills in the foreign country influence decisions about skill acquisition at home. We combine the changing opportunities - changing incentive structure idea with an assumption concerning the information environment: Employers in the foreign country are neither perfectly informed nor equally informed over time about the skill levels of individual migrant workers as employers' experience of employing migrant workers accumulates. Our model gives rise to several interesting results. First, while migration is pursued by the relatively high-skilled, subsequent return migrants are drawn from both tails of the migrant skill distribution. Second, the fraction of the home-country workforce acquiring education in the presence of migration opportunities is higher than the fraction of the home-country workforce acquiring education in the absence of migration opportunities. Third, the intertemporal increase in the probability of discovery of individual skill levels prompts a sequence of migratory moves characterized by a rising average skill level, until the probability of discovery arising from accumulation of migrant employment experience reaches its steady state equilibrium. Finally, under well-specified conditions, per capita output in a country vulnerable to migration of skilled members of its workforce is higher than per capita output in a country that is immune to migration.
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Suggested Citation

  • Nancy H. Chau & Oded Stark, 1998. "Human Capital Formation, Asymmetric Information, and the Dynamics of International Migration," Departmental Working Papers _095, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:chk:cuhked:_095

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stark, Oded & Wang, Yong, 2002. "Inducing human capital formation: migration as a substitute for subsidies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 29-46, October.
    2. Bouoiyour, jamal, 2006. "Migration, Diaspora et développement humain
      [Migration, Diaspora and Human Development]
      ," MPRA Paper 37014, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration


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