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Abstract

This article studies the role of rainfall in determining the education composition of Mexico-US migration. Emphasizing the relationship between rainfall and migration costs, a revised Roy model indicates that rainfall affects selection on education through not only households’ liquidity constraints but also the comparisons between changes in migration costs and wage differentials at different levels of education. With retrospective data on the migration history of male Mexicans, the empirical analysis shows that the inverted U-shaped relationship between migration probabilities and education is less dispersed with a higher vertex when rainfall decreases, suggesting higher migration costs and reinforced self-selection patterns. The impacts of rainfall on selection and education are stronger for the migrant stock than for migration flows. Studying how rainfall influences migrants’ return decisions provides consistent results.

Abstract

Are there long-term labor consequences in migrating to the US during a recession? For most immigrants, credibly estimating this effect is difficult because of selective migration. Some immigrants may not move if economic conditions are not favorable. However, identification is possible for refugees as their arrival dates are exogenously determined through the US Refugee Resettlement program. A one percentage point increase in the arrival national unemployment rate reduces refugee wages by 1.98% and employment probability by 1.57 percentage points after 5 years.