Are Forced Migrants More Skilled?

A Theoretical Model of Self-Selection in Forced Migration

In: Southeastern Europe

This article fills a gap in theories of forced migration. We present a new model, motivated by specific features of forced migration during a conflict which do not feature in existing migration models. We incorporate the relative deprivation hypothesis and a new “restoration” hypothesis in order to better explain forced migration as a two-stage process, which starts with conflict and, in some cases, forced displacement in the first stage and continues with emigration in the second stage. A particular feature of our model is that it predicts self-selection of highly skilled individuals into international migration as a result of conflict, since the “restoration” hypothesis assumes that individuals with higher income before conflict are most under pressure to restore their previous income through emigration. The model used in this article to analyse conflict-induced migration could also motivate further modelling to better match the characteristics of migration induced by natural disasters (which are expected to increase in the future as a result of climate change) as well as by large development projects.

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