IZA DP No. 1954: Educational Differences in the Migration Responses of Young Workers to Local Labor Market Conditions
published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2010, 45 (4), 944-970
It is unclear whether educational disparities in internal migration levels reflect important economic differences or simply different consumption choices. I answer this question empirically by testing for educational differentials in the likelihood that young workers undertake and succeed at arbitrage migration. I find that young college graduates are two to five times more likely than less educated workers to reside in a state with high labor demand at the time they entered the market. Among college graduates, cross-state migration by college graduates equalizes the wage impact of early career labor demand shocks in their home states. This is not true for less educated workers. The lack of wage convergence is most severe for cohorts who entered the labor market during periods of high spatial variation in state conditions and low national employment growth. My results are consistent with theories of educational differences in migration that assume less educated workers are credit constrained, and cast doubt on several other explanations for the difference.