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Skilled emigration and skill creation: A quasi-experiment

  • Satish Chand
  • Michael A. Clemens

Does the emigration of highly-skilled workers deplete local human capital? The answer is not obvious if migration prospects induce human capital formation. We analyze a unique natural quasi-experiment in the Republic of the Fiji Islands, where political shocks have provoked one of the largest recorded exoduses of skilled workers from a developing country. Mass emigration began unexpectedly and has occurred only in a well-defined subset of the population, creating a treatment group that foresaw likely emigration and two different quasi-control groups that did not. We use rich census and administrative microdata to address a range of concerns about experimental validity. This allows plausible causal attribution of post-shock changes in human capital accumulation to changes in emigration patterns. We show that high rates of emigration by tertiary-educated Fiji Islanders not only raised investment in tertiary education in Fiji; they moreover raised the stock of tertiary educated people in Fiji—net of departures.

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File URL: https://crawford.anu.edu.au/degrees/idec/working_papers/IDEC08-05.pdf
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Paper provided by International and Development Economics in its series International and Development Economics Working Papers with number idec08-05.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:idc:wpaper:idec08-05
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