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How well does education travel? Education and occupation with and without migration


  • August Gächter
  • Stefanie Smoliner


Using the Labour Force Survey (LFS) we explore the difference international migration makes for the distribution of occupational levels for any given level of education in the two countries of interest: Austria and Germany. Migrant outcomes are also being compared with home country outcomes, i.e. Serbia and Turkey. We find that education is imperfectly portable across national borders. Austrian employers treat schooling from certain countries of origin differently from the way they treat schooling from natives. Educational levels completed in Western European countries are obviously more transferable across national borders than educational levels completed elsewhere. Workers in their home country all have similar occupational returns to education but migrants in Austria or Germany lag considerably behind. Middle and higher education in particular are not equally rewarded if from abroad. The low value of foreign-acquired education may reflect discrimination, differences in school quality across continents of origin, imperfect knowledge of the evaluation of foreign credentials on the side of the employer or the low compatibility of the foreign-acquired education with the requirements and the specific orientation of the host country labour market.

Suggested Citation

  • August Gächter & Stefanie Smoliner, 2010. "How well does education travel? Education and occupation with and without migration," FIW Research Reports series II-010, FIW.
  • Handle: RePEc:wsr:ecbook:2010:i:ii-010

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2009. "Educational Mismatch: Are High-Skilled Immigrants Really Working at High-Skilled Jobs and the Price They Pay If They Aren't?," IZA Discussion Papers 4280, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2008. "Why is the payoff to schooling smaller for immigrants?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 1317-1340, December.
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    6. Michael A. Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, "undated". "The Earnings of First and Second Generation Immigrants in England; An Investigation Using the Quarterly Labour Force Survey," Discussion Papers in Economics 96/7, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    7. Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina & Özden, Çaglar, 2008. "Brain waste? Educated immigrants in the US labor market," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 255-269, October.
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    9. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-1240, December.
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    More about this item


    occupation; education; migration; labour force survey; Hauser-Warren score;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing


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