International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States

57 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2002

See all articles by Daniel Chiquiar

Daniel Chiquiar

University of California at San Diego

Gordon H. Hanson

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2002

Abstract

In this paper, we use data from the Mexico and U.S. population censuses to examine who migrates from Mexico to the United States and how the skills and economic performance of these individuals compare to those who remain in Mexico. We test Borjas' negative-selection hypothesis that in poor countries the individuals with the strongest incentive to migrate to rich countries are those with relatively low skill levels. We find that 1) Mexican immigrants, while much less educated than U.S. natives, are on average more educated than residents of Mexico, and 2) were Mexican immigrants in the United States to be paid according to current skill prices in Mexico they would tend to occupy the middle and upper portions of Mexico's wage distribution. These results are inconsistent with the negative-selection hypothesis and suggest, instead, that in terms of observable skills there is intermediate or positive selection of immigrants from Mexico. The results also suggest that migration abroad may raise wage inequality in Mexico.

Suggested Citation

Chiquiar, Daniel and Hanson, Gordon H., International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States (September 2002). NBER Working Paper No. w9242. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=334334

Daniel Chiquiar

University of California at San Diego ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0502
United States

Gordon H. Hanson (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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