Who brings in more skills?: The human capital characteristics of returning migrants and immigrants in Eastern and Southern Africa

Kevin J A Thomas, Pennsylvania State University

This study examines the human capital endowments associated with return migration and immigration in Africa. Theoretically, the Neo-classical and New Economics of Labor Migration (NELM) theories predict different patterns of human capital selectivity among international migrants. Empirical studies investigating how well they predict return migration in Africa are lacking. This study uses census data from two case studies, South Africa and Uganda, to achieve the following objectives. (1) It examines whether the characteristics of native-born migrants returning after key political developments, e.g. the collapse of the Idi Amin regime and the end of apartheid, are associated with existing theoretical predictions of migrant characteristics. (2) It examines disparities in educational attainment and occupational status among native-born returning migrants, immigrants and nonmigrants. (3) It investigates the demographic and social determinants of migrants’ human capital endowments. (4) Finally, it discusses the broader implications of our findings for policies that link migration and development.

Presented in Session 34: International migration in Africa