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Immigrants Move Where Their Skills Are Scarce: Evidence from English Proficiency

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  • Aparicio Fenoll, Ainoa

    (Collegio Carlo Alberto)

  • Kuehn, Zoë

    (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

Abstract

This paper studies whether individuals tend to migrate to countries where their skills are scarce or abundant. Focusing on English language skills, we test whether immigrants who are proficient in English choose to move to countries where many or few individuals speak English. We use the introduction of English classes into compulsory school curricula as an exogenous determinant for English proficiency of migrants of different ages, and we consider cohort data on migration among 29 European countries, where English is not the official language and where labor mobility is essentially free. Our estimation strategy consists of refined comparisons of cohorts, and we control for all variables traditionally included in international migration models. We find that immigrants who are proficient in English move to countries where fewer individuals speak English, and where hence their skills are scarce. We also show that similar results hold for general skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Aparicio Fenoll, Ainoa & Kuehn, Zoë, 2018. "Immigrants Move Where Their Skills Are Scarce: Evidence from English Proficiency," IZA Discussion Papers 11907, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11907
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    migration; English language skills; choice of destination country;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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