Self-selection and Earnings of Migrants: Evidence from Rural China
Using data from a rural household survey in China, this paper explores the link between employment choice (nonworking, local farm work, local nonfarm work and migratory work) and migrant earnings. We find significant self-selection in migration. Youths, males, better-educated individuals and those in good health are more likely to migrate. In terms of unobserved characteristics, we find positive selection in migration as related to the alternatives of not working and local farm work, and insignificant self-selection as related to local nonfarm work. Controlling for self-selection, the wage returns to gender (male), education and health are lower than those obtained from simple ordinary least squares (OLS), and the returns to experience are higher. More importantly, we find different self-selection between individuals who have moved as pioneers and migrants from households in which other members have already migrated.
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