Essays on International Migration

Tijan L. Bah

Avril 2019

Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Nova School of Business and Economics (Nova SBE) & Paris School of Economics

Sous la direction de Catia Batista et Flore Gubert

The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to a better understanding of the drivers of international migration. In Chapter 1, we document that immigrants in Portugal face a high incidence of occupational-skill mismatch, and show how it affects the selection into migration. We find that the incidence of over-education leads to negative selection while correct occupational-skill matches lead to positive selection. In Chapter 2, we rely on a lab-in-the-field experiment to understand the willingness to migrate illegally of young males aged 15 to 25 in The Gambia. We first show that potential migrants overestimate both the risk of dying en route to Europe, and the probability of obtaining legal residency status. The experimental results suggest that the willingness to migrate illegally is affected by information on the chances of dying en route and of obtaining a legal residence permit. Providing potential migrants with official numbers on both probabilities thus affect their likelihood of migrating. This has the potential to help migrants make informed decisions and perhaps save lives. In Chapter 3, we investigate the impact of family structure on international migration decisions. We find that children of mothers in polygynous unions are more likely to migrate internationally. We provide further evidence suggesting that this result is due to sibling rivalry: having full- or half-siblings in migration increases the likelihood of migrating. Our evidence suggests that co-wives’ rivalry as documented elsewhere trickles down to children’s rivalry in migration, suggesting that while neglected in the literature, family structure is crucial to understanding migration.