The Self-Selection in the Migration Process: What Can We Learn?
This paper reviews the theoretical and the empirical literature regarding migration in order to cast some light upon the nature of self-selection. In particular it attempts to identify the specific factors which induce a skilled rather than an un-skilled migration. As a result, some conclusions upon the existence as well as the determinants of selective processes in migration will be offered. Three contributions of the theoretical literature can be highlighted: first, sending country characteristics vis-à-vis host country conditions create uneven incentives for different levels of abilities or education, and therefore create the ground for a selectivity process. Second, migration costs play a major role in determining the direction of the selectivity and third, host country migration policies as well as demand side considerations influence the direction of the selection. The empirical evidence shows that the direction of the selectivity in terms of educational level varies considerably across countries: in some cases the emigrant flow is mainly characterized by highly educated individuals, whereas in other, the emigration flow is predominantly made by low skilled individuals. On the contrary in terms of unobservable characteristics, the empirical literature reveals that either the movers are positively selected or they are not selected at all.
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