Want freedom, will travel: Emigrant self-selection according to institutional quality

Publication Type:
Journal Article
European Journal of Political Economy, 2016, 45, pp. 71-84
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We investigate emigrant self-selection according to institutional quality using up to 3566 observations on bilateral migration flows from 77 countries over the 1990–2000 period. We relate these flows to differences in political and economic institutions. We improve and expand upon previous studies by (i) examining decade-long migration flows that (ii) include flows not only to OECD countries but also to non-OECD countries, also (iii) utilizing an estimation method that takes into account the information in zero value migration flows and (iv) examining not only total migration flows but also college-educated and non-college-educated subsamples separately. We find that economic freedoms are a significant pull factor for potential migrants. Once economic freedoms are controlled for, measures of political institutions do not always enter significantly into our estimations. Results are similar for college- and non-college-educated subsamples. Improvements in legal systems and property rights appear to be the strongest pull factor for potential migrants.
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