Welfare Magnet Hypothesis, Fiscal Burden and Immigration Skill Selectivity

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 22.05.2012, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Jackline Wahba (University of Southampton)


This paper revisits the magnet hypothesis and investigates the impact of the welfare generosity on the difference between skilled and unskilled migration rates. The main purpose of the paper is to assess the role of mobility restriction on shaping the effect of the welfare state generosity. In a free migration regime, the impact is expected to be negative on the skill composition of migrants while in a restricted mobility regime, the impact will be the opposite, as voters will prefer selective migration policies, favoring skilled migrants who tend to be net contributors to the fiscal system. We utilize the free labor movement within EUR (the EU, Norway and Switzerland) and the restricted movement from outside of the EUR to compare the free migration regime to the restricted migration regime. We find strong support for the "magnet hypothesis" under the free-migration regime, and the "fiscal burden hypothesis" under the restricted-migration regime even after controlling for differences in educational quality and returns to skills in source and host countries.

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