Mother tongue, host country income and return migration

Kirk A. Scott, Lund University
Jan M. Saarela, University of Helsinki and Åbo Akademi University

Using a unique database constructed through the merging of administrative records from Sweden and Finland, this study is the first to provide a detailed examination of differential return-migration risks by people’s mother tongue within a given nationality. We estimate hazard models of the propensity to return migrate among Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking Finns in Sweden, accounting for income and standard socio-demographic variables. In line with previous research, Swedish-speaking Finns are found to have notably lower return-migration risks than Finnish-speaking Finns. Our primary aim is to study whether this divergence relates to between-group differences in host country income. The motivation is that labour market outcomes of Swedish-speaking Finns are known to be in parity with native Swedes, which presumably is because they have the same mother tongue. The research hypothesis is not confirmed by our analyses, however, since host country income and the other background variables only explain a modest part of the language-group difference in return-migration risk.

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Presented in Session 111: International migration: moving on or moving back?