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Migration and human capital in Brazil during the 1990s


  • Fiess, Norbert M.
  • Verner, Dorte


Nearly 40 percent of all Brazilians have migrated at one point and time, and in-migrants represent substantial portions of regional populations. Migration in Brazil has historically been a mechanism for adjustment to disequilibria. Poorer regions and those with fewer economic opportunities have traditionally sent migrants to more prosperous regions. As such, the southeast region, where economic conditions are most favorable, has historically received migrants from the northeast region. Migration should have benefited both regions. The southeast benefits by importing skilled and unskilled labor that makes local capital more productive. The northeast can benefit from upward pressures on wages and through remittances that migrant households return to their region of origin. The northeast of Brazil is a net sender of migrants to the southeast. In recent years a large number of people moved from the southeast to the northeast. Compared with northeast to southeast (NE-SE) migrants, southeast to northeast (SE-NE) migrants are less homogeneous regarding age, wage, and income. SE-NE migrants are on average poorer and less educated than the southeast average, while NE-SE migrants are financially better off and higher educated than the northeast average. The authors find that the predicted returns to migration are increasing with education for SE-NE migrants and decreasing for NE-SE migrants. They further observe that the returns to migration have been decreasing for NE-SE migrants and increasing for SE-NE migrants between 1995 and 1999. This finding helps explain migration dynamics in Brazil. While the predicted positive returns to migration for NE-SE migrants indicate that NE-SE migration follows in general the human capital approach to migration, the estimated lower returns to migration for SE-NE may indicate that nonmonetary factors also play a role in SE-NE migration.

Suggested Citation

  • Fiess, Norbert M. & Verner, Dorte, 2003. "Migration and human capital in Brazil during the 1990s," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3093, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3093

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Willis, Robert J & Rosen, Sherwin, 1979. "Education and Self-Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 7-36, October.
    2. Norbert R. Schady, 2003. "Convexity and Sheepskin Effects in the Human Capital Earnings Function: Recent Evidence for Filipino Men," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 65(2), pages 171-196, May.
    3. Chris Robinson & Nigel Tomes, 1982. "Self-Selection and Interprovincial Migration in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 15(3), pages 474-502, August.
    4. Francisco de Hollanda Guimarães Ferreira & Peter Lanjouw & Marcelo Neri, 2000. "A new poverty profile for Brazil using PPV, PNAD and census data," Textos para discussão 418, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
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    Cited by:

    1. Castilho, Marta & Menéndez, Marta & Sztulman, Aude, 2012. "Trade Liberalization, Inequality, and Poverty in Brazilian States," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 821-835.
    2. Chauvin, Juan Pablo & Glaeser, Edward & Ma, Yueran & Tobio, Kristina, 2017. "What is different about urbanization in rich and poor countries? Cities in Brazil, China, India and the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 17-49.
    3. Alexandre Carvalho & Daniel da Mata & Kenneth M. Chomitz & João Carlos Magalhães, 2005. "Spatial Dynamics of Labor Markets in Brazil," Discussion Papers 1110, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.
    4. Laura Hering & Rodrigo Paillacar, 2016. "Does Access to Foreign Markets Shape Internal Migration? Evidence from Brazil," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 30(1), pages 78-103.
    5. Thomas Gries & Manfred Kraft & Christina Pieck, 2011. "Interregional migration, self-selection and the returns to education in Brazil," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 46(3), pages 707-732, June.
    6. repec:hal:psewpa:halshs-00967356 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:dau:papers:123456789/1904 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Marie Daumal, 2013. "The Impact of Trade Openness on Regional Inequality: The Cases of India and Brazil," The International Trade Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(3), pages 243-280, August.
    9. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4295 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Kenneth M. Chomitz & Daniel da Mata & Alexandre Carvalho & João Carlos Magalhães, 2015. "Spatial Dynamics of Labor Markets in Brazil," Discussion Papers 0153, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.


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