Call for Papers: Migrants’ skills wastage in the labor market: a multidisciplinary approach for policy formation

The call for our special issue on brain waste is now official:

Deadline for submissions is 31 July 2022

The topic of migrants’ skills wastage has generated a sizable but scattered body of research spanning economics, demography, sociology, law, and other social sciences over the past few years (Griesshaber and Seibel 2015; Flisi et al. 2017; Leuven and Oosterbek 2011; Pecoraro 2014; Capsada-Munsech 2017; Klink 2008; Zhou et al. 2016). While the topic is interdisciplinary by nature, recent work has been disciplinary, generating field-specific hypotheses, data, methods and applications, to the detriment of interdisciplinary links and policy debate. The risk of continuing on the current trend is that specialist disciplinary lines will not only progressively depleting the benefit of informing and generating new knowledge by studying an effectively interdisciplinary phenomenon but generate policy recommendations that only cater for a partial aspect of the problem. In an extreme scenario, they risk becoming irrelevant.

The objective of this special issue is to produce a reference resource which consolidates the existing research body, summarises key insights across several disciplines, and provide a firm foundation for continued interdisciplinary dialogue aimed at unifying knowledge for policy debate and policy formulation.

Specifically with this call for papers, we seek to consolidate research findings from different disciplines on migrants’ skills wastage. This includes the study of topics such as over-education, the international transferability of human capital, statistical or outright discrimination in the labour market and within firms, migration policy, and methodological approaches addressing the self-selection that characterises the choice to migrate and enter the labour market of the host country.

At the same time, we seek novel approaches that unite different perspectives and allow a continuation of interdisciplinary research on the topic, with the objective of providing clear information for policy use. Examples could include, but no be limited to, topics such as the spatial dimensions associated with the under-use of human capital, inter-generational and household effects of experiencing skills under-use (especially educational choices of children whose parents experience skills mismatches), the development of new databases, methodologies or variables, and migration policy considerations from both sending and receiving countries with across regions within a country.

Submission portal: Submission deadline: July 31, 2022

Zhiming Cheng
Wei Guo
Marco Pecoraro
Didier Ruedin
Massimiliano Tani

Yes, migration intentions predict migration flows

A new paper by Philippe Wanner demonstrates that migration intentions are closely related to actual migration flows. Using individual-level data from Switzerland, he studied recently arrived immigrants in Switzerland, comparing state migration intentions and actual migration 2 years later.

96% of migrants who wanted to stay in Switzerland actually stayed and 71% of those who wanted to leave the country actually left. Overall, intentions were a good predictor of behaviors

Wanner, Philippe. 2020. ‘Can Migrants’ Emigration Intentions Predict Their Actual Behaviors? Evidence from a Swiss Survey’. Journal of International Migration and Integration. doi: 10.1007/s12134-020-00798-7.

Stop using population estimates as evidence of racism

I’ve long been critical of population estimates as ‘evidence’ of racism, but now there is no reason left to do so. The basic ‘evidence’ is as follows: There are say 5% immigrants in country X, you ask the general population, and their mean estimate is maybe that there are 15% immigrants in the country. Shocking, they overestimate the immigrant population, which is ‘evidence’ that the general population is generally racist (I enjoyed this phrase). I’ve been critical of this because of three reasons. First, we don’t generally tell survey participants what we mean by ‘immigrants’, but use a specific definition (foreign citizens, foreign born) for the supposedly correct answer. Second, why should members of the general population have a good grasp of the size of the immigrant population? We might be able to estimate the share of immigrants in our personal network, but that’s not the same as estimating population shared. Third, if we see this as evidence of racism, we assume that the threat perspective is dominant.

It turns out, however, that there is a general human tendency to overestimate the population share of small groups: immigrants, homosexuals, you name it. David Landy and colleagues demonstrate that this tendency to overestimate small groups comes hand in hand with a tendency to underestimate large groups — a pull towards the average. There’s nothing particular about immigrants there, and nothing about racism either.

Landy, D., B. Guay, and T. Marghetis. 2017. ‘Bias and Ignorance in Demographic Perception’. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, August, 1–13.

Photo: CC-by-nc-nd by IceBone