Return Migration: an Empirical Investigation
Many people emigrating abroad eventually return home. Yet, little is known about the returnees: who are they and how do they compare to those who did not return? How does their decision to return depend on economic situation at home? In this paper, I empirically analyze the propensity of US immigrants to return. To identify return migration, I use the method adopted from Van Hook et.al. (2006). The method is based the U.S. Current Population Survey (CPS) which interviews households for two consecutive years. About a quarter of foreign-born individuals drop out of the sample between the first and the second years, due to various causes including return migration. After eliminating all other causes of dropout, I estimate the propensity of immigrants to return, depending on personal and home country characteristics. I find that the difference between recent immigrants and other immigrants is greater than the difference between men and women, or skilled and unskilled migrants. Thus, assimilation differentiates immigrants more in their decision to return than education or gender. In particular, distance to home country negatively affects return propensity of those who arrived over 10 years ago, and has no effect on recent immigrants.
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