PUBLI: Nelly El-Mallakh et Jackline Wahba, “Upward or downward: Occupational mobility and return migration”, World Development, 137, jan. 2021


This paper examines whether temporary international migration enables returnees to climb the occupational ladder. Using data from Egypt, we examine the occupational mobility of returnees relative to non-migrants of the same birth cohort. We rely on an instrumental variable approach to control for the endogeneity of the temporary migration decision. We find evidence that return migration increases the probability of upward occupational mobility and leads to larger effects among highly educated returnees. Our results are robust to using a Difference-in-Differences matching technique that controls for unobserved heterogeneity between non-migrants and returnees. Our findings underscore that temporary overseas work experience can alleviate potential brain drain concerns through the human capital enhancement of return migrants.