Migration, Access, and Educational Outcomes

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Grand Suite 5
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Marie T. Mora, University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

Selective Migration, Occupational Choice, and the Wage Returns to College Majors

Tyler Ransom
Duke University


I examine the extent to which the returns to college majors are influenced by selective migration and occupational choice across locations in the US. To quantify the role of selection, I develop and estimate an extended Roy model of migration, occupational choice, and earnings where, upon completing their education, individuals choose a location in which to live and an occupation in which to work. In order to estimate this high-dimensional choice model, I make use of machine learning methods that allow for model selection and estimation simultaneously in a non-parametric setting. I find that OLS estimates of the returns to business and STEM majors relative to education majors are upward biased by 15% on average and by as much as 30%. Using estimates of the model, I characterize the migration behavior of different college majors and find that migration flows are twice as sensitive to occupational concentration as they are to wage returns. This finding has important implications for local governments seeking to attract or retain skilled workers.

Women’s returns to education in India: The Role of Marriage Patterns and Processes

Dhiman Das
National University of Singapore


While studies show significant and positive returns to education in the labor market among women in India, female labor force participation in India is low and declining. This motivates us to examine returns to education in the marriage market among women in India. We give special attention to the fact that marriages in India are predominantly characterized by economic homogamy, which may also have its implication on returns. We also look at two common processes that are associated with marriage formation – migration and dowry payments and look at their implication on returns.

We use data from the nationally representative Indian Human Development Survey (2011-12). Our regression analysis shows that return to education measured in terms of per capita household consumption in the marital home is significant and positive. Assortative mating, measured here by differences in fathers' education, has a significant effect on consumption expenditure and the returns are lower in non-homogamous marriages. Finally, the results also show that returns do not significantly vary by migration at the time of marriage but is associated with lower returns in communities with higher dowry propensities.

Remittances and the Brain Drain: Evidence From Microdata for Sub-Saharan Africa

Julia Bredtmann
RWI Essen and IZA
Fernanda Martinez Flores
RWI Essen
Sebastian Otten
University College London and RWI Essen


Research on the relationship between high-skilled migration and remittances has been limited by the lack of suitable microdata. We create a unique cross-country dataset by combining household surveys from five Sub-Saharan African countries that enables us to analyze the effect of migrants’ education on their remittance behavior. Having comprehensive information on both ends of the migrant-origin household relationship and employing household fixed effects specifications that only use within-household variation for identification allows us to address the problem of unobserved heterogeneity across migrants’ origin households. Our results reveal that migrants’ education has no significant impact on the likelihood of sending remittances. Conditional on sending remittances, however, high-skilled migrants send significantly higher amounts of money to their households left behind. This effect holds for the sub-groups of internal migrants and migrants in non-OECD countries, while it vanishes for migrants in OECD destination countries once characteristics of the origin household are controlled for.

The Indirect Effects of Educational Expansions: Evidence from a Large Enrollment Increase in STEM Majors

Nicola Bianchi
Northwestern University


Increasing access to education may have consequences that go beyond the effects on marginal students induced to enroll. It may change school quality, peer effects, and returns to skill. This paper studies the effects of an educational expansion on student learning, exploiting an Italian reform that changed the admission requirements for university STEM majors. Newly collected administrative data on 27,236 students indicate that the reform decreased learning in STEM fields due to overcrowded universities and negative peer effects. The analysis of long-run incomes suggests that the reform might have had a long-lasting negative effect on the returns to STEM degrees.
JEL Classifications
  • J1 - Demographic Economics