Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 197–226 | Cite as

The emigration of immigrants, return vs onward migration: evidence from Sweden

  • Lena NekbyEmail author
Original Paper


This study analyzes emigration propensities for natives and immigrants delineating among immigrant emigrants between return and onward migration. Results indicate that emigrants are positively selected in terms of upper education. Well-educated immigrants have a higher probability of leaving for third-country destinations than returning to countries of origin. Predicted age–income profiles for immigrants show that return migrants have higher adjusted mean income levels than non-emigrants up to the age of 40. Onward migrants have lower predicted income levels across the age distribution due to this group’s composition and relatively low employment levels in Sweden. Separate estimations by region of origin indicate that within each group, onward migrants are more positively selected then return migrants in terms of income.


Emigration Return migration Onward migration 

JEL Classification

J61 J15 



I am grateful to Mahmood Arai for helpful comments as well as to seminar participants at the Department of Economics, Stockholm University, the Institute for Labor Market Policy Evaluation (IFAU), and the Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI). The paper has greatly benefited from the comments of two anonymous referees. Finally, I wish to thank Finanspolitiska Forskningsinstitutet and the Jan Wallander Foundation and Tom Hedelius Foundation for research support.


  1. Aguilar R, Gustafsson B (1994) Immigrants in Sweden’s labour market during the 1980s. Scand Econ His Rev 3:139–147Google Scholar
  2. Andersson D, Dahlgren H, Hagsten E (2000) Internationell rörlighet bland högskoleutbildade. Beskrivningar av utvandring och invandring i Sverige under 1990-talet. Regeringskansliet, Utbildningsdepartementet 1–72Google Scholar
  3. Arai M, Regnér H, Schröder L (2000a) Invandrare på den svenska arbetsmarknaden. DS 2000:69Google Scholar
  4. Arai M, Schröder L, Vilhelmsson R (2000b) En svartvit arbetsmarknad. Report to the expert group in public economics (ESO). DS 2000:47Google Scholar
  5. Bevelander P, Skyt Nielsen H (1999) Declining employment assimilation of immigrants in Sweden: observed or unobserved characteristics? Discussion paper 2132, Centre for Economic Policy ResearchGoogle Scholar
  6. Borjas G (1985) Assimilation, changes in cohort quality, and the earnings of immigrants. J Labor Econ 3(4):463–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borjas G (1987) Self-selection and the earnings of immigrants. Am Econ Rev 77:531–553Google Scholar
  8. Borjas G (1989) Immigrant and emigrant earnings: a longitudinal study. Econ Inq 27:21–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Borjas G (1999) The economic analysis of immigration. In: Ashenfelter O, Card D (eds) Handbook of labor economics, vol 3. pp 1697–1760Google Scholar
  10. Borjas G (2000) The economic progress of immigrants. In: Borjas G (ed) Issues in the economics of immigration. University of Chicago, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  11. Borjas G, Bratsberg B (1996) Who leaves? The out-migration of the foreign-born. Rev Econ Stat 78(1):165–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chiswick B (1978) The effect of Americanization on the earnings of foreign-born men. J Polit Econ 86:897–921CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Constant A, Massey DS (2003) Self-selection, earnings, and out-migration: a longitudinal study of immigrants to Germany. J Popul Econ 16(4):631–653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Constant A, Zimmermann KF (2003) The dynamics of repeat migration: a Markov chain analysis. IZA Discussion papers, no. 885Google Scholar
  15. DaVanzo J (1976) Differences between return and nonreturn migration: an econometric analysis. Int Migr Rev 10(1):13–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DaVanzo J (1983) Repeat migration in the United States: who moves back and who moves on? Rev Econ Stat 65:552–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Devortez D, Ituralde C (2000) Probability of staying in Canada, Vancouver centre of excellence. Working paper 00-06. RIIMGoogle Scholar
  18. Djajic S, Milbourne R (1988) A general equilibrium model of guest-worker migration. J Int Econ 25:335–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Duleep HO (1994) Social security and the emigration of immigrants. Social Secur Bull 57:37–52Google Scholar
  20. Dustmann C (1993) Earnings adjustment of temporary migrants. J Popul Econ 6:153–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dustmann C (1996a) An economic analysis of return migration. Discussion paper, No. 96-02, University College of London and CEPR, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Dustmann C (1996b) Return migration. The European experience. Econ Policy 22:215–250Google Scholar
  23. Dustmann C (2000) Temporary migration and economic assimilation. IZA Discussion Papers, No. 186Google Scholar
  24. Dustmann C (2001) Return migration wage differentials and the optimal migration duration. IZA Discussion Papers, No. 264Google Scholar
  25. Dustmann C (2003) Return migration, wage differentials, and the optimal migration duration. Eur Econ Rev 47:353–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Edin P-A, Åslund O (2001) Invandrare på 1990-talets arbetsmarknad. Research paper 7, IFAUGoogle Scholar
  27. Edin P-A, Lalonde RJ, Åslund O (2000) Emigration of immigrants and measures of immigrant assimilation: evidence from Sweden. Swed Econ Policy Rev 7:163–204Google Scholar
  28. Ekberg J (1991) Vad hände sedan? En studie av utrikes födda på arbetsmarknaden. ACTA Wexionesia 2, Economy and politics 3, VäxjöGoogle Scholar
  29. Galor O, Stark O (1991) The probability of return migration, migrants’ work effort and migrants’ performance. J Dev Econ 35(2):399–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hammarstedt M (2004) Återutvandring från Sverige 1995–1999. Ekon Debatt 2004:2Google Scholar
  31. Heckmann JJ, Honoré BE (1990) The empirical content of the Roy Model. Econometrica 58(5):1121–1149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hicks JR (1932) The theory of wages. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Hill JK (1987) Immigrant decisions concerning duration of stay and migratory frequency. J Dev Econ 25:221–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hu WY (2000) Immigrant earnings assimilation: estimates from longitudinal data. Am Econ Rev 90(2):368–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jasso G, Rosenzweig MR (1982) Estimating the emigration rates of legal immigrants using administrative and survey data: the 1971 cohort of immigrants to the United States. Demography 19:279–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Klinthäll M (1998) Patterns of return migration from Sweden 1970–1993. Department of Economic History, Lund UniversityGoogle Scholar
  37. Klinthäll M (1999) Homeward bound: return migration from Sweden to Germany, Greece, Italy and the United States during the period 1968–1993. Department of Economic History, Lund UniversityGoogle Scholar
  38. Klinthäll M (2000) Are return migrants marginalized? Department of Economic History, Lund UniversityGoogle Scholar
  39. Klinthäll M (2003) Return migration from Sweden to Chile. What happened after Pinochet? Lund Stud Econ Hist 2003:21Google Scholar
  40. Lalonde RJ, Topel RH (1992) The assimilation of immigrants in the U.S. labor market. In: Borjas G (ed) Issues in the economics of immigration. University of Chicago, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  41. le Grand C, Szulkin R (2000) Permanent disadvantage or gradual integration: explaining the immigrant-native earnings gap in Sweden. SOFI Working Paper series 2000, No. 7Google Scholar
  42. Lindstrom DP, Massey DS (1994) Selective emigration, cohort quality and models of immigrant assimilation. Soc Sci Res 23:315–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Longva P (2001) Out-migration of immigrants: implications for assimilation analysis. Memorandum 4. Department of Economics, University of OsloGoogle Scholar
  44. Longva P, Raaum O (2003) Earnings assimilation of immigrants in Norway—a reappraisal. J Popul Econ 16:177–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lubotsky D (2000) Chutes or ladders? A longitudinal analysis of immigrant earnings (mimeo). Princeton UniversityGoogle Scholar
  46. Lundborg P (2000) Vilka förlorade jobbet under 1990-talet? In: Johan Fritzell (ed) Välfärdens förutsättningar. Arbetsmarknad, demografi och segregation. SOU 2000:37Google Scholar
  47. Nekby L (2003) Empirical studies on health insurance, employment of immigrants and the gender wage gap. Doctoral dissertation 2003:2, Department of Economics, Stockholm UniversityGoogle Scholar
  48. Österberg T (2000) Economic perspectives on immigrants and intergenerational transmissions. Doctoral dissertation. Department of Economics, Handelshögskolan, Göteborg UniversityGoogle Scholar
  49. Pedersen PJ, Røed M, Schröder L (2001) Utvandringen från de skandinaviska välfärdstaterna. Chapter in SNS report: Den offentliga sektorns dimensionering och styrning 1–19Google Scholar
  50. Ramos FA (1992) Out-migration and return migration of Puerto Ricans. In: Borjas G, Freeman R (eds) Immigration and the work force: economic consequences for the United States and source areas. University of Chicago, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  51. Rashid S (2002) Invandrarkvinnor och förvärvsdeltagande. Vilken roll spelar familjen? Umeå economic studies 588, Umeå UniversityGoogle Scholar
  52. Reagan PB, Olsen RJ (2000) You can go home again: evidence from longitudinal data. Demography 3(3):339–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Røed M (2002a) The return to return migration. ISF paper 2002:006. The Institute for Social ResearchGoogle Scholar
  54. Røed M (2002b) Premiums of migration abroad and upon return—a general model. ISF paper 2002:007. The Institute for Social ResearchGoogle Scholar
  55. Rosholm M, Scott K, Husted L (2000) The times they are a-changin’. organizational change and immigrant employment opportunities in Scandinavia. Working paper 2000, No. 07. Centre for Labour Market and Social ResearchGoogle Scholar
  56. Roy AD (1951) Some thoughts on the distribution of earnings. Oxf Econ Pap 3:135–146Google Scholar
  57. Schröder L (1996) Scandinavian skill migration in the 1980s. In: Wadensjö E (ed) The Nordic labour markets in the 1990s, vol II. Elsevier Science B. V.Google Scholar
  58. Wadensjö E (1997) Invandrarkvinnornas arbetsmarknad. SOU 1997:137Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations