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Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected? An Economic Analysis

  • Chiswick, Barry R.

    ()

    (George Washington University)

This paper explores the theoretical issues and the empirical literature regarding the selectivity of migrants. Although the primary focus is on international migration, reference is made to internal migration and return migration. The theoretical analysis indicates a tendency toward the favorable self-selection (supply) of migrants for labor market success. The favorable selectivity is more intense the greater the out-of-pocket (direct) costs of migration and return migration, the greater the effect of the higher level of ability on lowering the costs of migration, and the smaller the relative skill differentials in the lower-wage origin relative to the higher-wage destination. Favorable selectivity for labor market success can be expected to be less intense for non-economic migrants, such as refugees, tied movers and ideological migrants, and for sojourners (short-term migrants) and illegal aliens. Among countries for whom entry restrictions are binding, the criteria for rationing immigration visas (demand) will influence the favorable selectivity of those who actually immigrate. Selection criteria can ration visas on one or more characteristics that enhance labor market earnings (e.g., education), or on characteristics that are seemingly independent of skill level (e.g., kinship ties). Under either criteria there will be a tendency for immigrants to be favorably selected, although this is less intense under the later criteria. The overall favorable selectivity of immigrants, therefore, depends on the favorable selectivity of the supply of immigrants and the criteria used to ration admissions.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 131.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Brettel, C./J. Hollifield (eds.), Migration Theory, New York 2000, 61-76 / 2nd ed., 2008, 63-82
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp131
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  1. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1990. "The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 3573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Schwartz, Aba, 1973. "Interpreting the Effect of Distance on Migration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(5), pages 1153-69, Sept.-Oct.
  3. Borjas, George J, 1990. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 305-08, March.
  4. Duleep, Harriet Orcutt & Regets, Mark C., 1997. "The decline in immigrant entry earnings: Less transferable skills or lower ability?," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(Supplemen), pages 189-208.
  5. Sherrie A. Kossoudji & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark, 2002. "Coming out of the Shadows: Learning about Legal Status and Wages from the Legalized Population," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 598-628, July.
  6. Schwartz, Aba, 1976. "Migration, Age, and Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 701-19, August.
  7. Chiswick, Barry R, 1977. "Sons of Immigrants: Are They at an Earnings Disadvantage?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 376-80, February.
  8. Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz, 1999. "Undocumented workers in the labor market: An analysis of the earnings of legal and illegal Mexican immigrants in the United States," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 91-116.
  9. Katz, Eliakim & Stark, Oded, 1984. "Migration and Asymmetric Information: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 533-34, June.
  10. George J. Borjas, 1988. "Immigration And Self-Selection," NBER Working Papers 2566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-89, October.
  12. Khan, Aliya Hashmi, 1997. "Post-migration investment in education by immigrants in the United States," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(Supplemen), pages 285-313.
  13. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A, 1993. "Immigrant Selectivity and Wages: The Evidence for Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 986-93, September.
  14. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 2248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Harriet Duleep & Mark Regets, 1997. "Measuring immigrant wage growth using matched CPS files," Demography, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 239-249, May.
  17. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
  18. Bailey, Adrian J, 1993. "Migration History, Migration Behavior and Selectivity," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 315-26, December.
  19. Jasso, Guillermina & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1990. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 298-304, March.
  20. Katz, Eliakim & Stark, Oded, 1987. "International Migration under Asymmetric Information," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 718-26, September.
  21. Schultz, Theodore W, 1975. "The Value of the Ability to Deal with Disequilibria," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 827-46, September.
  22. DaVanzo, Julie, 1983. "Repeat Migration in the United States: Who Moves Back and Who Moves On?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(4), pages 552-59, November.
  23. Chiswick, Barry R, 1986. "Is the New Immigration Less Skilled Than the Old?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 168-92, April.
  24. Paul E. Gabriel & Susanne Schmitz, 1995. "Favorable Self-Selection and the Internal Migration of Young White Males in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 460-471.
  25. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
  26. Mincer, Jacob, 1978. "Family Migration Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 749-73, October.
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