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Temporary and permanent migrant selection: Theory and evidence of ability-search cost dynamics

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  • Chen, Joyce J.
  • Kosec, Katrina
  • Mueller, Valerie

Abstract

The migrant selection literature concentrates primarily on spatial patterns. We integrate two workhorses of the labor literature, the Roy and search models, to illustrate the implications of migration duration for patterns of selection. Theory and empirics show that temporary migrants are intermediately selected on education, with weaker selection on cognitive ability. Longer migration episodes lead to stronger positive selection on both education and ability because the associated jobs involve finer employee-employer matching and offer greater returns to experience. Networks are more valuable for permanent migration, where search costs are higher. Labor market frictions explain observed complex network-skill interactions. When considering migrant selection, the economics literature has largely focused on patterns by area of origin. However, the duration of migration episodes–temporary versus permanent–is another important determinant of selection. We integrate two workhorses of the labor literature, the Roy model and a search model, to illustrate the implications of migration duration for patterns of self-selection. We provide theoretical and empirical evidence showing that, because short-term migration episodes have less scope for skill-based matching and greater need for screening, temporary migrants are more likely to display intermediate selection on education, with weaker selection on underlying cognitive ability. Longer term migration episodes, in contrast, allow for finer employee-employer matching and greater returns to experience, leading to stronger positive selection on both education and cognitive ability among permanent migrants. Networks are also found to be more valuable for permanent migration, where search costs tend to be higher. However, we also provide evidence of complex network-skill interactions, driven primarily by labor market frictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Joyce J. & Kosec, Katrina & Mueller, Valerie, 2015. "Temporary and permanent migrant selection: Theory and evidence of ability-search cost dynamics," IFPRI discussion papers 1496, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1496
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lori Beaman & Jeremy Magruder, 2012. "Who Gets the Job Referral? Evidence from a Social Networks Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3574-3593, December.
    2. World Bank, 2013. "World Development Report 2014
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      ," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 16092, December.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Linda Datcher Loury, 2006. "Some Contacts Are More Equal than Others: Informal Networks, Job Tenure, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 299-318, April.
    6. 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.
    7. Durr-e-Nayab & G. M. Arif, 2012. "Pakistan Panel Household Survey Sample Size, Attrition and Socio-demographic Dynamics," Poverty and Social Dynamics Paper Series 2012:01, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Joyce & Kosec, Katrina & Mueller, Valerie, 2019. "Moving to despair? Migration and well-being in Pakistan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 186-203.
    2. Parag Mahajan & Dean Yang, 2017. "Taken by Storm: Hurricanes, Migrant Networks, and U.S. Immigration," NBER Working Papers 23756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    migration; labor markets; income;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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