Abstract

This paper examines the selection of Mexican migrants to the United States using novel data with rich premigration characteristics that include permanent migrants, return migrants, and migrating households. Results indicate that Mexican migrants are more likely to be young, male, and from rural areas compared to nonmigrants, but they are similar to nonmigrants in cognitive ability and health. Migrants are selected from the middle of the education distribution. Male Mexican migrants are negatively selected on earnings, and this result is largely explained by differential returns to labor market skill between the United States and Mexico rather than proxies for differential costs of migration.

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