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