Husbands' return migration and wives' occupational choices

Clotilde Mahé


Exploiting the documented effect of migration on occupational choice upon return to their origin country with data from Egypt, we establish a link between return migration of men and their wives' time use through within-couple occupational interdependence. Seemingly Unrelated Regression model estimates suggest that being married to a migrant who opted for self-employment upon return decreases a woman's likelihood to engage in paid work, and increases her likelihood to engage in family work and subsistence farming, at both the extensive and intensive margins. This is pronounced for rural families, and when husbands work in agriculture. Results differ by education level, illiterate wives engaging significantly more in paid as well as unpaid work compared to more educated women. Findings are consistent with theoretical models of occupational interdependence between spouses and assortative mating; they highlight the need to buffer potentially depriving migration-induced effects on women's time use, even once migration is complete.

JEL classification: F22, J16, J22, J24, L26, O12, O15

Keywords: International migration, Return migration, Gender, Time use, Entrepreneurship, North Africa, Egypt