Skill Complementarities and Migration Decisions
Posted: 23 May 2001
Date Written: Spring 2001
This paper offers an explanation of the high mobility of skilled workers based on human capital complementarities. If the skill premium is increasing in the average level of human capital of a location, and there exist fixed migration costs, in equilibrium the more skilled the workers are, the stronger the economic incentives to migrate towards the richest regions will be. Moreover, endogenously generated differences in productivity due to migration affect occupational choices and regional specialization. Empirical evidence consistent with the proposed explanation is provided using data on Italian regions. It emerges that, even after controlling for economic conditions, a high population share of individuals who completed college or high-school in a region seems to be a relevant pull factor for the most educated migrants. In contrast, the importance of this variable, which measures the average level of human capital of a location, drops when unskilled migrants are considered. Finally, the effects of migration on the evolution of regional disparities are taken into account.
Keywords: Internal Migration, Skill Complementarities, Occupational Choices
JEL Classification: F2, O11, O15, O18
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