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SFB 504 discussion paper No. 00-39:

The Optimal Migration Duration and Activity Choice after Re-migration

Christian Dustmann and Oliver Kirchkamp


If migrants return to their origin countries, two questions arise which are of immediate economic interest for both immigration and emigration country: What determines their optimal migration duration, and what are the activities migrants choose after a return. Little research has been devoted to these two issues. This paper utilises a unique survey data set which records activities of returned migrants. We first illustrate the activities of immigrants after returning. We show that more than half of the returning migrants are economically active after return, and most of them engage in entrepreneurial activities. We then develop a model, where migrants decide simultaneously about the optimal migration duration, and their after-return activities. Guided by this model, we specify and estimate an empirical model, where the after-return activity, and the optimal migration duration are simultaneously chosen.

Keywords: Life Cycle Models, International Migration, Qualitative Choice Models.

JEL-No.: D9, F22, C35.

We are grateful to Ian Preston for helpful suggestions. Many thanks to Elmar Hönekopp for making the data available to us.