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Who Leaves and Who Returns? Deciphering Immigrant Self-Selection from a Developing Country

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  • Akee, Randall K. Q.

    (Brookings Institution)

Abstract

Existing research examining the self-selection of immigrants suffers from a lack of information on the immigrants’ labor force activities in the home country, quotas limiting who is allowed to enter the destination country, and non-economic factors such as internal civil strife in the home country. Using a novel data set from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), I analyze a migration flow to the U.S. that suffers from none of these problems. I find that high-skilled workers (relative to the home country skill distribution) are the most likely to migrate from the FSM to the U.S. and that their behavior is explained mainly by the difference in average wages for their skill group. This finding suggests that previous immigration studies have overemphasized the role played by differences in the distributions of countries’ wages and skills. Including information on the immigrants’ characteristics prior to migration is central to my analysis, which highlights the importance of datasets that contain both home and destination country data on immigrants. Given the home country information, I use weather shocks to predict the probability of outmigration, which overcome the usual endogeneity problems in determining self-selection of immigrants. Second, I conduct nearest neighbor matching for immigrants prior to their leaving the home country using home country wages as the outcome variable to determine the nature of selection on unobservable characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Akee, Randall K. Q., 2007. "Who Leaves and Who Returns? Deciphering Immigrant Self-Selection from a Developing Country," IZA Discussion Papers 3268, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3268
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    Cited by:

    1. Emmanuelle Auriol & Alice Mesnard, 2016. "Sale of Visas: a Smuggler's Final Song?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(332), pages 646-678, October.
    2. Timothy J. Halliday & Randall Q. Akee, 2020. "The impact of Medicaid on medical utilization in a vulnerable population: Evidence from COFA migrants," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(10), pages 1231-1250, October.
    3. Akee, Randall K. Q., 2006. "The Babeldaob Road: The Impact of Road Construction on Rural Labor Force Outcomes in the Republic of Palau," IZA Discussion Papers 2452, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Biavaschi, Costanza & Elsner, Benjamin, 2013. "Let's Be Selective about Migrant Self-Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 7865, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Gordon Hanson & Chen Liu & Craig McIntosh, 2017. "The Rise and Fall of U.S. Low-Skilled Immigration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 48(1 (Spring), pages 83-168.
    6. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan, 2017. "Immigration in American Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1311-1345, December.
    7. Timothy J. Halliday & Randall Q. Akee & Tetine Sentell & Megan Inada & Jill Miyamura, 2019. "The Impact of Public Health Insurance on Medical Utilization in a Vulnerable Population: Evidence from COFA Migrants," Working Papers 2019-1, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
    8. Gröger, André, 2021. "Easy come, easy go? Economic shocks, labor migration and the family left behind," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    9. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "Europe's Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses: Self-Selection and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1832-1856, August.
    10. Michael A. Clemens & Claudio E. Montenegro & Lant Pritchett, 2019. "The Place Premium: Bounding the Price Equivalent of Migration Barriers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 201-213, May.
    11. Melania Salazar-Ordóñez & Carlos García-Alonso & Gabriel Perez-Alcalá, 2011. "Wage Gaps And Migrantion Costs: An Analysis From Simulation Data," ERSA conference papers ersa11p347, European Regional Science Association.
    12. Spitzer, Yannay & Zimran, Ariell, 2018. "Migrant self-selection: Anthropometric evidence from the mass migration of Italians to the United States, 1907–1925," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 226-247.
    13. Aguilar Esteva, Arturo Alberto, 2013. "Stayers and Returners: Educational Self-Selection among U.S. Immigrants and Returning Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 7222, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; developing country; self-selection;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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