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Immigrant Selection in The OECD


  • Belot, Michèle
  • Hatton, Timothy J.


The selection of immigrants by skill and education is a central issue in the analysis of immigration. Since highly educated immigrants tend to be more successful in host country labour markets and less of a fiscal cost it is important to know what determines the skill-selectivity of immigration. In this paper we examine the proportions of highly educated among migrants from around 80 source countries who were observed as immigrants in each of 29 OECD countries in 2000/1. We develop a variant of the Roy model to estimate the determinants of educational selectivity by source and destination country. We also estimate the determinants of the share of migrants from different source countries in each destination country’s immigrant stock. Two key findings emerge. One is that the effects of the skill premium, which is at the core of the Roy model, can be observed only after we take account of poverty constraints operating in source countries. The other is that cultural links and distance are often more important determinants of the proportion of high educated immigrants in different OECD countries than wage incentives or policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Belot, Michèle & Hatton, Timothy J., 2008. "Immigrant Selection in The OECD," CEPR Discussion Papers 6675, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6675

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heather Antecol & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Stephen J. Trejo, 2003. "Immigration Policy and the Skills of Immigrants to Australia, Canada, and the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1).
    2. David McKenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2010. "Self-Selection Patterns in Mexico-U.S. Migration: The Role of Migration Networks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 811-821, November.
    3. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks in the Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants in the U. S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599.
    4. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 239-281, April.
    5. Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2005. "Self-selection among undocumented immigrants from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 215-240, October.
    6. Abdurrahman Aydemir, 2003. "Are Immigrants Positively or Negatively Selected? The Role of Immigrant Selection Criteria and Self-Selection," Labor and Demography 0306002, EconWPA.
    7. Michel Beine & Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2002. "Brain Drain and LDCs' Growth: Winners and Losers," Working Papers 2002-08, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    8. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
    9. Docquier, Frédéric, 2006. "Brain Drain and Inequality Across Nations," IZA Discussion Papers 2440, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    11. Beine, Michel & Docquier, Frederic & Rapoport, Hillel, 2001. "Brain drain and economic growth: theory and evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 275-289, February.
    12. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
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    More about this item


    Immigration; Skill Selection;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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