Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #691

Public Beliefs in Social Mobility and High-Skilled Migration

by Claudia Lumpe

RWI, 05/2017, 40 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-801-1 DOI: 10.4419/86788801



This paper investigates how beliefs of the destination country’s population in social mobility may influence the location choice of high-skilled migrants. We pool macro data from the IAB brain drain dataset with population survey data from the ISSP for the period 1987-2010 to identify the effect of public beliefs in social mobility on the share of high-skilled immigrants (stocks) in the main OECD immigration countries. The empirical results suggest that countries with higher “American Dream” beliefs, i.e., with stronger beliefs that climbing the social ladder can be realized by own hard work, attracted a higher proportion of high-skilled immigrants over time. This pattern even holds against the fact that existing social mobility in these countries is relatively lower.

JEL-Classification: F22

Keywords: Immigration; public beliefs; social mobility; social status