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Return Migration and Earnings Mobility in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia

Working Paper 2020-562


We examine the role of cross-border return migration in the intertemporal and intergenerational transmission of status across seven surveys from Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. We use transition matrices and instrumental variable regressions to link prime-age men’s present outcomes to those in prior years and to their fathers’ outcomes. Earnings in prior years are inferred using job-type and occupation-group cell means. We find that return migrants land higher-earning jobs and are more inter-generationally mobile. However, they outperform non-migrants not only currently but even in past years. Controlling for mitigating factors, the role of migration disappears, suggesting that individual-level effects and demographics are responsible.

Authors: Vladimir Hlasny, Shireen AlAzzawi.

Keywords: Return migration, intergenerational socioeconomic mobility, MENA
JEL: F22, O15, R23, J61, J62