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Are Migrants More Skilled than Non-Migrants? Repeat, Return and Same-Employer Migrants

  • Jennifer Hunt

I examine the determinants of inter-state migration of adults within western Germany, using the German Socio-Economic Panel from 1984-2000. I highlight the prevalence and distinctive characteristics of migrants who do not change employers. Same-employer migrants represent one fifth of all migrants higher education and pre-move wages than non-migrants. Conditional on age, same-employer migrants are therefore more skilled than non-migrants. By contrast, although other migrants have higher education than non-migrants, they do not have higher pre-move wages. Furthermore, they have in their ranks disproportionate numbers of the non-employed, unemployed and recently laid off. It therefore seems inappropriate to characterize them as more skilled than non-migrants. The results for same-employer migrants indicate that skilled workers have a low-cost migration avenue that has not been considered in the previous literature. I also analyze the relation between repeat and return migration and distinguish between short and long-distance migration. I confirm that long-distance migrants are more skilled than short-distance migrants, as predicted by theory, and I show that return migrants are a mix of successes and failures.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10633.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Publication status: published as Hunt, Jennifer. "Are Migrants More Skilled Non-Migrants? Repeat, Return, And Same-Employer Migrants," Canadian Journal of Economics, 2004, v37(4,Nov), 830-849.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10633
Note: LS
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  1. Hunt, Jennifer, 2000. "Why Do People Still Live In East Germany?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2431, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-75, August.
  3. Hughes, Gordon & McCormick, Barry, 1981. "Do Council Housing Policies Reduce Migration between Regions?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(364), pages 919-37, December.
  4. Yashiv, Eran, 2004. "The Self-Selection of Migrant Workers Revisited," IZA Discussion Papers 1094, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  8. Constant, Amelie & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 2003. "The Dynamics of Repeat Migration: A Markov Chain Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 4124, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Abdurrahman Aydemir, 2003. "Are Immigrants Positively or Negatively Selected? The Role of Immigrant Selection Criteria and Self-Selection," Labor and Demography 0306002, EconWPA.
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  13. George J. Borjas & Bernt Bratsberg, 1994. "Who Leaves? The Outmigration of the Foreign-Born," NBER Working Papers 4913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2002. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," NBER Working Papers 9242, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. McCormick, Barry, 1997. "Regional unemployment and labour mobility in the UK," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 581-589, April.
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  17. Michael C. Burda & Jennifer Hunt, 2001. "From Reunification to Economic Integration: Productivity and the Labor Market in Eastern Germany," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 1-92.
  18. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-53, September.
  19. Ernst P. Goss & Niles C. Schoening, 1984. "Search Time, Unemployment, and the Migration Decision," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(4), pages 570-579.
  20. George J. Borjas & Stephen J. Trejo, 1991. "Immigrant participation in the welfare system," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(2), pages 195-211, January.
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  23. 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.
  24. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
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