, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 631-653

Self-selection, earnings, and out-migration: A longitudinal study of immigrants to Germany

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In this paper we examine the process of out-migration and investigate whether cross-sectional earnings assimilation results suffer from selection bias due to out-migration. Our 14 year longitudinal study reveals that emigrants are negatively selected with respect to occupational prestige and to stable full time employment. Our results show no selectivity with respect to human capital or gender. The likelihood of return migration is strongly determined by the range and nature of social attachments to Germany and origin countries. It is also the highest during the first five years since arrival, and grows higher toward retirement. Selective emigration, however, does not appear to distort cross-sectional estimates of earnings assimilation in a relevant way.

All Correspondence to Douglas S. Massey. This study has been made possible through various research visits to DIW Berlin and IZA in Bonn. We are grateful for the access to the data, and many useful comments on various drafts by Klaus F. Zimmermann. Earlier drafts were presented at the annual conference of the Population Association of America in Atlanta, and research seminars at Princeton University and IZA, Bonn. We wish to thank many participants for stimulating discussions and useful comments. We have benefitted in making revisions from the comments of three anonymous referees. Responsible editor: Klaus F. Zimmermann.