Self-Selection and International Migration: New Evidence from Mexico

44 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2010 Last revised: 31 Jul 2021

See all articles by Robert Kaestner

Robert Kaestner

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ofer Malamud

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2010

Abstract

This paper uses data from the Mexican Family Life Survey (MxFLS) to examine the patterns of selection of male, Mexican migrants to the United States. We confirm previous findings that Mexican migrants are selected from the middle of the education distribution, but show that there is no evidence for selection of migrants on cognitive ability. We demonstrate that migrants are also selected from the middle of the observed skill distribution, as measured by predicted wages. However, controlling for proxies of the costs of migration, we find substantially less evidence of "intermediate selection" on observed skill. We find little evidence for selection on unobserved skill, with or without controls for the costs of migration. Finally, we show directly that the decision to migrate is highly correlated with differential returns to observable skill and the costs of migration. Overall, these findings are consistent with the predictions of the canonical model of migration.

Suggested Citation

Kaestner, Robert and Malamud, Ofer, Self-Selection and International Migration: New Evidence from Mexico (February 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15765, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1556129

Robert Kaestner (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Ofer Malamud

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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