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Self-selection patterns in Mexico-U.S. migration: The role of migration networks

  • David McKenzie


    (World Bank, Development Economics Research Group)

  • Hillel Rapoport


    (Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University, CADRE, Universite de Lille 2, and CReAM, University College London)

This paper examines the role of migration networks in determining self-selection patterns of Mexico-U.S. migration. We first present a simple theoretical framework showing how such networks impact on migration incentives at different education levels and, consequently, how they are likely to affect the expected skill composition of migration. Using survey data from Mexico, we then show that the probability of migration is increasing with education in communities with low migrant networks, but decreasing with education in communities with high migrant networks. This is consistent with positive self-selection of migrants being driven by high migration costs, as advocated by Chiquiar and Hanson (2005), and with negative self-selection of migrants being driven by lower returns to education in the U.S. than in Mexico, as advocated by Borjas (1987).

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Paper provided by Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London in its series CReAM Discussion Paper Series with number 0701.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:0701
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  1. Barry Chiswick, 1999. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 181-185, May.
  2. Ernesto López Córdova, 2004. "Globalization, Migration and Development: The Role of Mexican Migrant Remittances," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 82, Econometric Society.
  3. David McKenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2011. "Can migration reduce educational attainment? Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 1331-1358, October.
  4. Hildebrandt, Nicole & McKenzie, David, 2005. "The effects of migration on child health in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3573, The World Bank.
  5. Woodruff, Christopher & Zenteno, Rene, 2007. "Migration networks and microenterprises in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 509-528, March.
  6. Bauer, Thomas K. & Epstein, Gil S. & Gang, Ira N., 2002. "Enclaves, Language and the Location Choice of Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 558, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. B.R. Chiswick & P.W. Miller, 2000. "Do Enclaves Matter in Immigrant Adjustment?," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 00-19, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  8. Ravi Kanbur & Hillel Rapoport, 2004. "Migration Selectivity and the Evolution of Spatial Inequality," Working Papers 2004-04, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  9. Paul Winters & Alain de Janvry & Elisabeth Sadoulet, 2001. "Family and Community Networks in Mexico-U.S. Migration," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 159-184.
  10. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
  11. Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2000. "Self-selection among undocumented immigrants from Mexico," Working Papers 0005, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  12. Bauer, Thomas K. & Epstein, Gil S. & Gang, Ira N., 2002. "Herd Effects or Migration Networks? The Location Choice of Mexican Immigrants in the U.S," IZA Discussion Papers 551, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 2248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Mckenzie, David & Rapoport, Hillel, 2007. "Network effects and the dynamics of migration and inequality: Theory and evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-24, September.
  15. Winters, Paul C. & Davis, Benjamin, 2000. "Gender, Networks and Mexico-U.S. Migration," Working Papers 12901, University of New England, School of Economics.
  16. Joshua D. Angrist, 1991. "Instrumental Variables Estimation of Average Treatment Effects in Econometrics and Epidemiology," NBER Technical Working Papers 0115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  18. Gordon H. Hanson, 2006. "Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(4), pages 869-924, December.
  19. Kossoudji, S.A. & Cobb-Clark, D.A., 1996. "Coming Out of the Shadows: Learning About Legal Status and Wages from the Legalized Population," CEPR Discussion Papers 347, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  20. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:2:p:549-599 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Sarah Dolfin & Garance Genicot, 2010. "What Do Networks Do? The Role of Networks on Migration and "Coyote" Use," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(2), pages 343-359, 05.
  22. Schultz, Theodore W, 1980. "Nobel Lecture: The Economics of Being Poor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(4), pages 639-51, August.
  23. Caponi, Vincenzo, 2006. "Heterogeneous Human Capital and Migration: Who Migrates from Mexico to the US?," IZA Discussion Papers 2446, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. Mishra, Prachi, 2007. "Emigration and wages in source countries: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 180-199, January.
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