Migration experience, occupational attainment and subjective perceptions of occupational downgrading

Working Papers 291 Merja Kauhanen, Mari Kangasniemi

We investigate the impact of migration experience on occupational attainment in the source country as well as on individuals’ subjective assessment of whether they are overqualified for their jobs. The data used in the study are drawn from a survey of Estonian return migrants who have resided in Finland and a comparison group of Estonians who have never lived abroad.

The results indicate that qualifications obtained in Finland predict higher occupational attainment, but migration experience per se does not. Having experienced occupational downgrading during an earlier migration spell in Finland does not have implications for occupational attainment back in Estonia. As far as a subjective statement about holding a job that is below one’s skills is concerned, migration experience does not have an impact on the likelihood of people to consider themselves overqualified. Compared withthose stayers who state that they have considered migrating to Finland actual migrants actually consider themselves less often overqualified for their job, suggesting that those prone to migrate are more optimistic about their earnings potential. Subjective perceptions of overqualification do not seem to stem from downgrading experiences in the Finnish labor market, either. However, both financial success and difficulties in making a living in Finland are positively related to feeling overqualified.

Keywords: Return migration, occupational choice, east-west migration
Published: 17.2.2015
JEL: J61, J24, F22
ISBN: 978-952-209-134-5 (pdf)
ISSN: 1795-1801 (pdf)
Publication (PDF)