The Education-Occupation Mismatch of International Emigrants and Return Migrants in Mexico, 2005-2012

Andres Villarreal, University of Maryland

In this study I examine the mismatch between Mexican migrants’ level of education and their occupation both prior to migrating and upon their return using data from a nationally-representative panel survey of Mexican households. In contrast to recent research indicating that Mexican migrants are negatively selected by education overall, I find that Mexican men who migrate abroad have significantly higher levels of education than non-migrants in the same occupation. Because men who are overeducated for their occupation generally receive lower wages than those employed in occupations commensurate with their education, and have greater job dissatisfaction, over-education may provide an incentive to emigrate. Return migrants also have higher education levels compared to non-migrants in the same occupation according to the most complete models that take into account differential selectivity into employment. Finally, I find evidence that the education-occupation mismatch has increased among Mexican emigrants in recent years.

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Presented in Session 225: Socioeconomic Status of New Immigrants to the United States