Occupational choice of return migrants: Is there a 'Jack-of-all-trades' effect?

Clotilde Mahé

#2017-039

Although it has been found that return migrants are more likely to be self-employed than non-migrants, the role of migration episodes per se remains unclear. With reference to Lazear's Jack-of-all-trades hypothesis, this paper examines whether migrants are more likely to choose self-employment upon return because of the diverse work experience they gained abroad. Using the 2012 Egypt Labour Market Panel Survey, seemingly unrelated regression model estimates show that return migrants' greater propensity to be self-employed, to survive or to generate jobs as self-employed might proceed from participating in significantly more occupations, sectors and jobs over their work history than non-migrants. Results hold for non-agricultural activities, rural areas, and controlling for financial resources. In line with Lazear's framework, they confirm that entrepreneurship can be learnt, and that exposure to multiple occupations and industries matters for entering into and persisting in self-employment.

JEL Classification: F22, J24, L26, O12, O15

Keywords: International migration, Return migration, Entrepreneurship, Human capital, North Africa, Egypt