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The Dynamics of Repeat Migration: A Markov Chain Analysis

  • Constant, Amelie F.


    (George Washington University, Temple University)

  • Zimmermann, Klaus F.


    (IZA and University of Bonn)

While the literature has established that there is substantial and highly selective return migration, the growing importance of repeat migration has been largely ignored. Using Markov chain analysis, this paper provides a modeling framework for repeated moves of migrants between the host and home countries. The Markov transition matrix between the states in two consecutive periods is parameterized and estimated using a logit specification and a large panel data with 14 waves. The analysis for Germany, the largest European immigration country, shows that more than 60% of the migrants are indeed repeat migrants. The out-migration per year is low, about 10%. Migrants are more likely to leave again early after their arrival in Germany, and when they have social and familial bonds in the home country, but less likely when they have a job in Germany and speak the language well. Once out-migrated from Germany, the return probability is about 80% and guided mainly by remittances and family considerations.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 885.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: International Migration Review, 2012, 46 (2), 361-387
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp885
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  1. Borjas, George J, 1989. "Immigrant and Emigrant Earnings: A Longitudinal Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(1), pages 21-37, January.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Constant, Amelie F. & Massey, Douglas S., 2002. "Self-Selection, Earnings, and Out-Migration: A Longitudinal Study of Immigrants to Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 672, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Constant, Amelie F. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2003. "Circular Movements and Time Away from the Host Country," IZA Discussion Papers 960, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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