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Invisible sample selection: Why you should care about those who leave when you are interested in those left behind: Guest post by Andreas Steinmayr

This is the eighth in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.
A key problem in the literature on the economics of migration is how emigration of an individual affects the welfare of households left behind (see Antman (2013) for a literature overview). The literature has worried a lot about the possibility that households that select into migration are different from those that don’t. A whole range of different IV approaches, along with a few migration lottery experiments have tried to address this form of selection.  However, the literature has worried less about (and been less successful dealing with) a second form of selection, namely that some households do not leave any member behind. I call this invisible sample selection since these all-move households are not observed at all in the standard household surveys in origin countries used in most studies (and also not in many other datasets). But failing to account for this problem leads to biased estimates, as explained below and shown in this graphical illustration.

Almost 80 percent of the growth in remittances to developing countries over the past 20 years is an illusion

David McKenzie's picture
Remittances sent by migrant workers to developing countries have soared in the past two decades. According to the World Development Indicators, workers’ remittances to developing countries were just US$47 billion in 1980 (in constant 2011 dollars). After barely rising by 1990 ($49 billion), they doubled by 2000 ($102 billion), and from there, tripled by 2010 ($321 billion).

Measuring International Mobility Through Where People Log In to Commonly Used Websites

David McKenzie's picture

International mobility of people is measured much less accurately than that of goods or finances. The most common sources of global data are from national censuses, which occur only every 10 years (and take years more to come out). Specialized surveys in some countries allow more frequent measurement of some flows, but such data are still relatively rare, and poorly suited to studying short-term migration movements.

Does gender matter in migration? Why I don’t believe any studies which claim it does

David McKenzie's picture

Since I’ve had three emails in one week asking me about this issue, I figured I might as well blog about it and have something to refer people to instead. The questions have all been variants of:

·         Are women better remitters than men?

·         Does having mothers migrate result in worse outcomes for kids than having their fathers migrate?

Gangnam Migration: Regression-Discontinuity Impacts of Migrating to Korea

David McKenzie's picture

Several countries around the world (notably Australia and Canada) have migration points systems- score above some points threshold and you can come in, score below and you can’t. This has intrigued me with the possibility of a regression-discontinuity design to measure impacts of migrating. However, there are several problems – the points given tend to be lumpy (e.g.

Stark evidence on the jobs quality-quantity trade-off: Evidence from migration

David McKenzie's picture

“More and better jobs” is a goal for many policymakers around the world (along with part of the title for a recent World Bank South Asia flagship report on employment). How to create “good jobs” is a key question that the next World Development Report is also expected to help answer.