Migration and development: Dissecting the anatomy of the mobility transition

T.H. Dao, F. Docquier, C. Parsons, G. Peri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Emigration first increases and then decreases as a country experiences economic development. This inverted U-shaped, cross-sectional relationship between emigration and development was first hypothesized by Zelinsky's theory of the mobility transition. Although several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the upward segment of the curve (the most common being the existence of financial constraints), they have not been examined in a systematic way. In this paper, we propose two decomposition methods to disentangle the main drivers of the mobility transition curve to OECD destination countries. Our simple decompositions shed light on the role of both microeconomic drivers (i.e., financial incentives and constraints) and macroeconomic drivers, as well as the skill composition of the population. Our double decomposition further distinguishes between migration aspirations and realization rates by education level. Overall, we provide consistent evidence that the role of financial constraints, while relevant for the poorest countries, is limited. Rather, a large fraction of the increasing segment is explained by the skill composition and by macroeconomic drivers (i.e., by factors that do not change in the short-run).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-101
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Volume132
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

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anatomy
driver
migration
emigration
decomposition
macroeconomics
microeconomics
OECD
incentive
economic development
education
evidence
economics
Decomposition
Financial constraints
experience
Macroeconomics
Emigration
method
rate

Cite this

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title = "Migration and development: Dissecting the anatomy of the mobility transition",
abstract = "Emigration first increases and then decreases as a country experiences economic development. This inverted U-shaped, cross-sectional relationship between emigration and development was first hypothesized by Zelinsky's theory of the mobility transition. Although several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the upward segment of the curve (the most common being the existence of financial constraints), they have not been examined in a systematic way. In this paper, we propose two decomposition methods to disentangle the main drivers of the mobility transition curve to OECD destination countries. Our simple decompositions shed light on the role of both microeconomic drivers (i.e., financial incentives and constraints) and macroeconomic drivers, as well as the skill composition of the population. Our double decomposition further distinguishes between migration aspirations and realization rates by education level. Overall, we provide consistent evidence that the role of financial constraints, while relevant for the poorest countries, is limited. Rather, a large fraction of the increasing segment is explained by the skill composition and by macroeconomic drivers (i.e., by factors that do not change in the short-run).",
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Migration and development : Dissecting the anatomy of the mobility transition. / Dao, T.H.; Docquier, F.; Parsons, C.; Peri, G.

In: Journal of Development Economics, Vol. 132, 01.05.2018, p. 88-101.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Migration and development

T2 - Dissecting the anatomy of the mobility transition

AU - Dao, T.H.

AU - Docquier, F.

AU - Parsons, C.

AU - Peri, G.

PY - 2018/5/1

Y1 - 2018/5/1

N2 - Emigration first increases and then decreases as a country experiences economic development. This inverted U-shaped, cross-sectional relationship between emigration and development was first hypothesized by Zelinsky's theory of the mobility transition. Although several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the upward segment of the curve (the most common being the existence of financial constraints), they have not been examined in a systematic way. In this paper, we propose two decomposition methods to disentangle the main drivers of the mobility transition curve to OECD destination countries. Our simple decompositions shed light on the role of both microeconomic drivers (i.e., financial incentives and constraints) and macroeconomic drivers, as well as the skill composition of the population. Our double decomposition further distinguishes between migration aspirations and realization rates by education level. Overall, we provide consistent evidence that the role of financial constraints, while relevant for the poorest countries, is limited. Rather, a large fraction of the increasing segment is explained by the skill composition and by macroeconomic drivers (i.e., by factors that do not change in the short-run).

AB - Emigration first increases and then decreases as a country experiences economic development. This inverted U-shaped, cross-sectional relationship between emigration and development was first hypothesized by Zelinsky's theory of the mobility transition. Although several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the upward segment of the curve (the most common being the existence of financial constraints), they have not been examined in a systematic way. In this paper, we propose two decomposition methods to disentangle the main drivers of the mobility transition curve to OECD destination countries. Our simple decompositions shed light on the role of both microeconomic drivers (i.e., financial incentives and constraints) and macroeconomic drivers, as well as the skill composition of the population. Our double decomposition further distinguishes between migration aspirations and realization rates by education level. Overall, we provide consistent evidence that the role of financial constraints, while relevant for the poorest countries, is limited. Rather, a large fraction of the increasing segment is explained by the skill composition and by macroeconomic drivers (i.e., by factors that do not change in the short-run).

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