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Internal Migration of Blacks in South Africa: Self-selection and Brain Drain


  • Choe, Chung


  • Chrite, E. LaBrent

    (University of Arizona)


Migrations historically have led to fears of “brain drain” from the sending regions because many studies show that the more highly skilled and motivated people are more likely to migrate. South Africa provides a natural testing ground for the study of brain drains because the Apartheid system, which ended in the early 1990s, had long constrained the locational choices of black migrants of all skill levels. As apartheid was being dismantled, new opportunities for movement opened up to black workers, leading to a surge in internal migration. We first analyze whether migration patterns of Black South Africans during the period 1992 to 1996 match the predictions of the two seminal papers, Roy (1951) and Sjaastad (1962), where individuals are hypothesized to be income-maximizers. The results from conditional logit regressions on individual choices among 318 locations show that they do. Individuals prefer localities with higher expected log wages regardless of their educations and skills. More importantly, workers with at least some matriculation tend to favor areas where a higher share of the population attended high school. In contrast, workers who did not attend high school find such areas less attractive. Over the study period, brain drain arose among blacks within South Africa: the share of high-educated residents in areas with high shares of high schooling increased.

Suggested Citation

  • Choe, Chung & Chrite, E. LaBrent, 2009. "Internal Migration of Blacks in South Africa: Self-selection and Brain Drain," IRISS Working Paper Series 2009-06, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  • Handle: RePEc:irs:iriswp:2009-06

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Philippe Van Kerm, 2013. "Generalized measures of wage differentials," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 465-482, August.
    2. Verme, Paolo, 2009. "Happiness, Deprivation and the Alter Ego," IRISS Working Paper Series 2009-18, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
    3. Rashid Hassan & James Thurlow, 2011. "Macro–micro feedback links of water management in South Africa: CGE analyses of selected policy regimes," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 42(2), pages 235-247, March.
    4. Elisabetta Marinelli, 2011. "Graduate migration in Italy - Lifestyle or necessity?," ERSA conference papers ersa11p1608, European Regional Science Association.

    More about this item


    Internal Migration ; South Africa ; Self-selection ; Brain Drain;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • 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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