Chapter 7: Do better educated emigrants intend to return? Evidence from Estonian return migration from Finland
Highly skilled workers are key drivers in the contemporary knowledge-based economy, with destination countries making increasing efforts to attract immigrants from this group, while emigration countries are equally attempting to encourage them to return back home (Apsite et al., 2012; De Haas, 2010; Jakoby, 2011; Krisjane et al., 2009; Olofsson, 2012; Stark et al., 1997; Thaut, 2009). Perhaps the most easily accessible variable, describing ‘skills’, is education. Previous research on the relationship between the level of education and return migration has presented mixed evidence. Based on Swedish data, Nekby (2006) found that returning emigrants have higher levels of education compared to those who stay, i.e. the initial ‘brain drain’ could become a ‘brain gain’ for the source country. Jensen and Pedersen (2007) obtained a similar result for all immigrants leaving Denmark, but their findings were less straightforward by source country groups. In contrast, Dustmann (1996, 2003) found that there was a negative effect of years of schooling on the intention of immigrants living in Germany to return to their home countries. These ambiguous results call for a more comprehensive treatment of education together with an analysis on the association between skills and return migration behaviour.
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