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Which factors drive the skill-mix of migrants in the long-run?

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  • Andreas Beerli
  • Ronald Indergand

Abstract

A pervasive, yet little acknowledged feature of international migration to developed countries is that newly arriving immigrants are increasingly highly skilled. This paper analyses the factors affecting the change in the skill composition of immigrants in Switzerland between 1980 and 2010 using a framework suggested by Grogger & Hanson (2011). Our findings suggest that improved schooling in origin countries of immigrants and a shift in the relative demand for highly educated workers in destinations stand out as the two most important drivers. Yet, while improved schooling would predict only a modest increase in the share of highly educated immigrants and a large increase of middle educated immigrants, we show that demand shifts associated with computerisation are crucial to understand why the share of highly educated immigrants increased sharply while the share of middle educated workers merely stabilised. Additionally, our framework allows evaluating the effect of changes in immigration policy. We find that the recent abolition of quotas for workers from European countries through a bilateral agreement with the EU in 2002 had a small but negative effect on the educational quality of immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Beerli & Ronald Indergand, 2015. "Which factors drive the skill-mix of migrants in the long-run?," UBSCENTER - Working Papers 012, UBS International Center of Economics in Society - Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:uceswp:012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Olof Ejermo & Yannu Zheng, 2018. "Liberalization of European migration and the immigration of skilled people to Sweden," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 8(1), pages 1-25, December.
    2. Andreas Beerli & Giovanni Peri, 2015. "The Labor Market Effects of Opening the Border: Evidence from Switzerland," NBER Working Papers 21319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    International migration; self selection; migration policy; job polarisation;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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