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Migrant Networks and the Spread of Information

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JournalOxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Aug 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 26 Oct 2017
DatePublished (current) - Jun 2018
Issue number3
Number of pages30
Pages (from-to)659-688
Early online date26/10/17
Original languageEnglish


Diaspora networks provide information to future migrants, which affects their success in the host country. While the existing literature explains the effect of networks on the outcomes of migrants through the size of the migrant community, we show that the quality of the network is an equally important determinant. We argue that networks that are more integrated in the society of the host country can provide more accurate information to future migrants about job prospects. In a decision model with imperfect signalling, we show that migrants with access to a better network are more likely to make the right decision, that is, they migrate only if they gain. We test these predictions empirically using data on recent Mexican migrants to the United States. To instrument for the quality of networks, we exploit the settlement of immigrants who came during the Bracero program in the 1950s. The results are consistent with the model predictions, providing evidence that connections to a better integrated network lead to better outcomes after migration.

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© 2017 The Department of Economics, University of Oxford and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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