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South-South migration and the labor market: Evidence from South Africa


  • Giovanni Facchini

    () (University of Nottingham, University of Milan, Centro Studi Luca d’Agliano, CEPR and CES–Ifo)

  • Anna Maria Mayda

    () (Georgetown University, Centro Studi Luca d’Agliano, CEPR and IZA)

  • Mariapia Mendola

    () (University of Milan Bicocca and Centro Studi Luca d’Agliano)


Using census data for 1996, 2001 and 2007 we study the labor market effect of immigration to South Africa. The paper contributes to a small but growing literature on the impact of South-South migration by looking at one of the most attractive destinations for migrant workers in Sub–Saharan Africa. We exploit the variation – both at the district level and at the national one – in the share of foreign–born male workers across schooling and experience groups over time. At the district level, we estimate that increased immigration has a negative and significant effect on natives’ employment rates – and that this effect is more negative for skilled and white South African native workers – but not on total income. These results are robust to using an instrumental variable estimation strategy. At the national level, we find that increased immigration has a negative and significant effect on na-tives’ total income but not on employment rates. Our results are consistent with outflows of natives to other districts as a consequence of migration, as in Borjas (2006).

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Facchini & Anna Maria Mayda & Mariapia Mendola, 2013. "South-South migration and the labor market: Evidence from South Africa," Development Working Papers 351, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 24 Apr 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:csl:devewp:351

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "What Fundamentals Drive World Migration?," NBER Working Papers 9159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Rachel M. Friedberg, 2001. "The Impact of Mass Migration on the Israeli Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1373-1408.
    3. Abigail Wozniak, 2010. "Are College Graduates More Responsive to Distant Labor Market Opportunities?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 944-970.
    4. Jennifer Hunt, 1992. "The Impact of the 1962 Repatriates from Algeria on the French Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(3), pages 556-572, April.
    5. Abdurrahman Aydemir & George J. Borjas, 2007. "Cross-Country Variation in the Impact of International Migration: Canada, Mexico, and the United States," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(4), pages 663-708, June.
    6. Guido Friebel & Juan Gallego & Mariapia Mendola, 2013. "Xenophobic attacks, migration intentions, and networks: evidence from the South of Africa," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 555-591, April.
    7. Robert E.B. Lucas, 2006. "Migration and Economic Development in Africa: A Review of Evidence," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(2), pages 337-395, December.
    8. Rachel M. Friedberg & Jennifer Hunt, 1995. "The Impact of Immigrants on Host Country Wages, Employment and Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
    9. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Gindling, T.H., 2009. "South-South Migration: The Impact of Nicaraguan Immigrants on Earnings, Inequality and Poverty in Costa Rica," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 116-126, January.
    11. Buckles, Kasey & Malamud, Ofer & Morrill, Melinda Sandler & Wozniak, Abigail, 2012. "The Effect of College Education on Health," IZA Discussion Papers 6659, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. George J. Borjas, 2006. "Native Internal Migration and the Labor Market Impact of Immigration," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
    13. Mishra, Prachi, 2007. "Emigration and wages in source countries: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 180-199, January.
    14. Bartel, Ann P, 1989. "Where Do the New U.S. Immigrants Live?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 371-391, October.
    15. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1335-1374.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alexandra Doyle & Amos C Peters & Asha Sundaram, 2014. "Skills mismatch and informal sector participation among educated immigrants: Evidence from South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 137, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    2. Marcus H. Böhme & Sarah Kups, 2017. "The economic effects of labour immigration in developing countries: A literature review," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 335, OECD Publishing.
    3. Ferrant, Gaëlle & Tuccio, Michele, 2015. "South–South Migration and Discrimination Against Women in Social Institutions: A Two-way Relationship," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 240-254.
    4. Michael Clemens, 2013. "The Effect of Foreign Labor on Native Employment: A Job-Specific Approach and Application to North Carolina Farms- Working Paper 326," Working Papers 326, Center for Global Development.
    5. Jaeger, David A & Ruist, Joakim & Stuhler, Jan, 2018. "Shift-Share Instruments and the Impact of Immigration," CEPR Discussion Papers 12701, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item


    Immigration; Labor market effects; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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