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Intentions to Return of Undocumented Migrants: Illegality as a Cause of Skill Waste

  • Coniglio, Nicola

    ()

    (University of Bari)

  • De Arcangelis, Giuseppe

    ()

    (Sapienza University of Rome)

  • Serlenga, Laura

    ()

    (University of Bari)

In this paper we show that highly skilled undocumented migrants are more likely to return home than migrants with low or no skills when illegality causes “skill waste”, i.e. when illegality reduces the rate of return of individual capabilities (i.e. skills and human capital) in both the labor and the financial markets of the country of destination. This proposition is first illustrated in a simple life-cycle framework, where illegality acts as a tax on skills, and then is tested on a sample of apprehended immigrants that crossed unlawfully the Italian borders in 2003. The estimation confirms that the intention to return to the home country is more likely for highly skilled than low-skill illegal immigrants. The presence of migration networks in the destination country may lower the skill-waste effect. The empirical result of this paper contrasts with the common wisdom on return decisions of legal migrants, according to which low-skill individuals are more likely to go back home rather than highly skilled migrants.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2356.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Development Economics, 13 (4), 2009, 641 - 657
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2356
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  1. Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2005. "Self-selection among undocumented immigrants from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 215-240, October.
  2. Dustmann, Christian, 2001. "Return Migration, Wage Differentials, and the Optimal Migration Duration," IZA Discussion Papers 264, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  14. Dustmann, Christian, 1997. "Return migration, uncertainty and precautionary savings," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 295-316, April.
  15. Borjas, George J & Bratsberg, Bernt, 1996. "Who Leaves? The Outmigration of the Foreign-Born," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-76, February.
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  17. Alice Mesnard, 2004. "Temporary migration and capital market imperfections," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 242-262, April.
  18. Maria Concetta Chiuri & Giuseppe De Arcangelis & Angela Maria D'Uggento & Giovanni Ferri, 2004. "Illegal Immigration into Italy: Evidence from a field survey," CSEF Working Papers 121, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
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