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The Return Motivations of Legal Permanent Migrants: Evidence from Exchange Rate Shocks and Immigrants in Australia

Abarcar, Paolo (2013): The Return Motivations of Legal Permanent Migrants: Evidence from Exchange Rate Shocks and Immigrants in Australia.

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Abstract

Why do legal permanent migrants return to their home countries? How do home country conditions influence this decision? This paper uses exogenous home country exchange rate shocks arising from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis to distinguish return motivations of a national sample of Australian immigrants. On average, a 10% favorable exchange rate shock (a depreciation in the home country currency) leads to a reduced likelihood of return of 0.37 percentage points for migrants. The effect is found to be stronger for those who had pre-existing intentions to return, weaker for those undecided, and zero for those who initially stated their desire to stay. These results favor a life-cycle explanation for migrant behavior and reject the theory that migrants are target earners who seek to invest upon return home.

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