The Effect of the Collapse of Communism on Migrant Quality

Ran Abramitzky, Stanford University
Isabelle Sin, Stanford University

We study how the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe affected the quality of migrants from Communist Europe to the US. We use a difference-in-difference approach where migrants from Western Europe are the comparison group, and compare the economic outcomes of migrants from Communist Europe who migrated pre- relative to post-collapse. We find that, relative to Western European migrants, the average quality of Communist migrants declined post-collapse as measured by education, skill, and earnings. The decrease was greater for migrants from the former Soviet Union than for those from the Soviet Satellites, which is consistent with the Soviet Union practicing a more extreme version of Communism. We plan to expand our study to include migration to Western Europe, and investigate the effects of the collapse on the types of skills brought by Communist migrants, and the effects of the rise of Communist in Eastern Europe on migrant quality.

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Presented in Session 25: Immigrant Origin Areas: Issues and Impacts