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The (Self-)Selection of International Migrants Reconsidered: Theory and New Evidence


  • Brücker, Herbert

    () (Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg)

  • Defoort, Cécily

    () (University of Lille 2)


This paper reconsiders the (self-)selection of international migrants. In an extended Roy-model we analyse the factors which affect the selection bias of migrants. In particular, we find that migrants need not necessarily be (un-)favourably self-selected if the inequality of earnings is higher (lower) in the receiving country compared to the sending country. Moreover, migrants might be favourably (self-)selected if the migration costs tend to decline with the skill level of migrants, even if the inequality of earnings is larger in the destination relative to the sending country. Based on a novel data set we find descriptive evidence that migrants tend be positively (self-)selected although the inequality in earnings is higher in the sending relative to the receiving countries. Moreover, our regressions results indicate that both, a higher inequality in the host and the home country, is associated with a favourable selection bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Brücker, Herbert & Defoort, Cécily, 2006. "The (Self-)Selection of International Migrants Reconsidered: Theory and New Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2052, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2052

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gordon H. Hanson, 2009. "The Economic Consequences of the International Migration of Labor," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 179-208, May.
    2. Spiros Bougheas & Douglas R. Nelson, 2012. "Skilled Worker Migration and Trade: Inequality and Welfare," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(2), pages 197-215, February.
    3. Stolz, Yvonne & Baten, Joerg, 2012. "Brain drain in the age of mass migration: Does relative inequality explain migrant selectivity?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 205-220.
    4. Paolo E Giordani & Michele Ruta, 2008. "Prejudice and Immigration," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002276, David K. Levine.
    5. Stolz, Yvonne & Baten, Jörg & Botelho, Tarcísio, 2011. "Growth effects of 19th century mass migrations: "Fome Zero" for Brazil," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 20, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.

    More about this item


    human capital of migrants; self-selection of migrants; international migration;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration

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