Refugees’ and Irregular Migrants’ Self-selection into Europe

71 Pages Posted: 17 May 2019 Last revised: 15 May 2021

See all articles by Cevat Giray Aksoy

Cevat Giray Aksoy

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; King’s College London; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Panu Poutvaara

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics; ifo Institut - Leibniz-Institut fuer Wirtschaftsforschung an der Universitaet Muenchen e.V.; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); CReAM; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Date Written: May 14, 2021

Abstract

We provide the first large-scale evidence on self-selection of refugees and irregular migrants who arrived in Europe in 2015 or 2016. Our analysis uses unique datasets from the International Organization for Migration and Gallup World Polls. We find that refugees are positively self-selected with respect to human capital, as are female irregular migrants. Male irregular migrants are negatively self-selected. These patterns hold whether analyzing individually stated main reason to emigrate, country-level conflict intensity, or sub-regional conflict intensity. Several additional analyses show that our results are unlikely to be driven by omitted variable bias or liquidity constraints. We offer a theoretical framework to explain these patterns, by extending the Roy-Borjas model to include risks related to staying in an unsafe country of origin, risks related to migration, and gender-specific returns to human capital.

Keywords: Refugees, self-selection, human capital, predicted income

JEL Classification: J15, J24, O15

Suggested Citation

Aksoy, Cevat Giray and Poutvaara, Panu, Refugees’ and Irregular Migrants’ Self-selection into Europe (May 14, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3373580 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3373580

Cevat Giray Aksoy (Contact Author)

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ( email )

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King’s College London ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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Panu Poutvaara

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

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