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Unequal Pay or Unequal Employment? What Drives the Skill-Composition of Labor Flows in Germany?


  • Arntz, Melanie
  • Gregory, Terry
  • Lehmer, Florian


This paper examines the determinants of gross labour flows in a context where modeling the migration decision as a wage-maximizing process may be inadequate due to regional wage rigidities that result from central wage bargaining. In such a context, the framework that has been developed by Borjas et al. (1992) on the selectivity of internal migrants with respect to skills has to be extended to allow migrants to move to regions that best reward their skills in terms of both wages and employment. The extended framework predicts skilled workers to be disproportionately attracted to regions with higher mean wages and employment rates as well as higher regional wage and employment inequalities. Estimates from a labour flow fixed effects model and a GMM estimator show that these predictions hold, but only the effects for mean employment rates and employment inequality are robust and significant. The paper may thus be able to explain why earlier attempts to explain skill selectivity in Europe within a pure wage-based approach failed to replicate the US results.

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  • Arntz, Melanie & Gregory, Terry & Lehmer, Florian, 2012. "Unequal Pay or Unequal Employment? What Drives the Skill-Composition of Labor Flows in Germany?," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62309, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc12:62309

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Caliendo, Marco & Künn, Steffen & Mahlstedt, Robert, 2017. "The return to labor market mobility: An evaluation of relocation assistance for the unemployed," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 136-151.
    2. Terry Gregory & Roberto Patuelli, 2015. "Demographic ageing and the polarization of regions—an exploratory space–time analysis," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 47(5), pages 1192-1210, May.
    3. Matthias Wrede, 2015. "Akzeptanz der Förderung gleichwertiger Lebensverhältnisse und Arbeitsbedingungen," Review of Regional Research: Jahrbuch für Regionalwissenschaft, Springer;Gesellschaft für Regionalforschung (GfR), vol. 35(1), pages 103-119, February.
    4. Gregory, Terry, 2012. "Löhne oder Beschäftigung? Was erklärt die Bildungsstruktur von Arbeitskräftebewegungen?," ZEW Wachstums- und Konjunkturanalysen, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research, vol. 15(3), pages 8-9.
    5. Caliendo, Marco & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Hennecke, Juliane & Uhlendorff, Arne, 2015. "Job Search, Locus of Control, and Internal Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 9600, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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    JEL classification:

    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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