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Self-selection in migration and returns to unobservable skills

Several papers have tested the empirical validity of the migration models proposed by Borjas (1987) and Borjas, Bronars, and Trejo (1992). However, to our knowledge, none has been able to disentangle the separate impact of observable and unobservable individual characteristics, and their respective returns across different locations, on an individual's decision to migrate. We build a model in which individuals sort, in part, on potential earnings - where earnings across different locations are a function of both observable and unobservable characteristics. We focus on the inter-provincial migration patterns of Canadian physicians. We choose this particular group for several reasons including the fact that they are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Since wage rates are exogenous, earning differentials are driven by differences in productivity. We then estimate a mixed conditional-logit model to determine the effects of individual and destination-specific characteristics (particularly earnings differentials) on physician location decisions. We find, among other things, that high-productivity physicians (based on unobservables) are more likely to migrate to provinces where the productivity premium is greater, while low-productivity physicians are more likely to migrate to areas where the productivity premium is lower. These results are consistent with a modified Borjas model of self-selection in migration based on both unobservables and observables.

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File URL: http://www.hec.ca/iea/cahiers/2006/iea0601_bd.pdf
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Paper provided by HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 06-01.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iea:carech:0601
Contact details of provider: Postal: Institut d'économie appliquée HEC Montréal 3000, Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine Montréal, Québec H3T 2A7
Phone: (514) 340-6463
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  1. Gary L. Hunt & Richard E. Mueller, 2004. "North American Migration: Returns to Skill, Border Effects, and Mobility Costs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 988-1007, November.
  2. Michael Benarroch & Hugh Grant, 2004. "The interprovincial migration of Canadian physicians: does income matter?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(20), pages 2335-2345.
  3. George J. Borjas & Stephen G. Bronars & Stephen J. Trejo, 1992. "Self-Selection and Internal Migration in the United States," NBER Working Papers 4002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Heckman, James J & Walker, James R, 1990. "The Relationship between Wages and Income and the Timing and Spacing of Births: Evidence from Swedish Longitudinal Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1411-41, November.
  5. Pissarides, Christopher A & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 1989. "Unemployment and the Inter-regional Mobility of Labour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 739-55, September.
  6. Roger Axelsson & Olle Westerlund, 1998. "A panel study of migration, self-selection and household real income," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 113-126.
  7. Chris Robinson & Nigel Tomes, 1982. "Self-Selection and Interprovincial Migration in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 15(3), pages 474-502, August.
  8. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2002. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," NBER Working Papers 9242, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Dionne, Georges & Langlois, Alain & Lemire, Nicole, 1987. "More on the geographical distribution of physicians," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 365-374, December.
  10. Satu Nivalainen, 2004. "Determinants of family migration: short moves vs. long moves," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 157-175, February.
  11. Schlottmann, Alan M & Herzog, Henry W, Jr, 1981. "Employment Status and the Decision to Migrate," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(4), pages 590-98, November.
  12. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 2248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Antolin, Pablo & Bover, Olympia, 1997. "Regional Migration in Spain: The Effect of Personal Characteristics and of Unemployment, Wage and House Price Differentials Using Pooled Cross-Sections," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 59(2), pages 215-35, May.
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