Do Emigrants Self-Select Along Cultural Traits?: Evidence from the MENA Countries

53 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2017

See all articles by Frédéric Docquier

Frédéric Docquier

Université catholique de Louvain; CREAM, Centre for Research on Environmental Appraisal & Management, UK; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Aysit Tansel

Middle East Technical University (METU) - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Riccardo Turati

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - School of Economic and Social Research (IRES)

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Date Written: November 17, 2017

Abstract

This paper empirically investigates whether emigrants from MENA countries self-select on cultural traits such as religiosity and gender-egalitarian attitudes. To do so, we use Gallup World Poll data on individual opinions and beliefs, migration aspirations, short-run migration plans, and preferred destination choices. We find that individuals who intend to emigrate to OECD, high-income countries exhibit significantly lower levels of religiosity than the rest of the population. They also share more gender-egalitarian views, although the effect only holds among the young (aged 15 to 30), among single women, and in countries with a Sunni minority. For countries mostly affected by Arab Spring, since 2011 the degree of cultural selection has decreased. Nevertheless, the aggregate effects of cultural selection should not be overestimated. Overall, self-selection along cultural traits has limited (albeit non negligible) effects on the average characteristics of the population left behind, and on the cultural distance between natives and immigrants in the OECD countries.

Keywords: International Migration, Self-Selection, Cultural Traits, Gender-Egalitarian Attitudes, Religiosity, MENA Region

JEL Classification: F22, 015, J61, Z10

Suggested Citation

Docquier, Frédéric and Tansel, Aysit and Turati, Riccardo, Do Emigrants Self-Select Along Cultural Traits?: Evidence from the MENA Countries (November 17, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3073151 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3073151

Frédéric Docquier (Contact Author)

Université catholique de Louvain ( email )

IRES
Place Montesquieu 3
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://https://perso.uclouvain.be/frederic.docquier/

CREAM, Centre for Research on Environmental Appraisal & Management, UK

University of Newcastle
NE1 7RU Newcastle Upon Tyne
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Aysit Tansel

Middle East Technical University (METU) - Department of Economics ( email )

Inonu Bulvari
Ankara 06800
Turkey
90 312 210 2073 (Phone)
90 312 210 7964 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Economic Research Forum (ERF) ( email )

21 Al-Sad Al-Aaly St.
(P.O. Box: 12311)
Dokki, Cairo
Egypt

Riccardo Turati

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - School of Economic and Social Research (IRES) ( email )

3, Place Montesquieu
1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Belgium

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