Mother Tongue, Host Country Income and Return Migration: A Study Using Merged Cross-Country Register Data
Kirk A. Scott, Lund University
Jan M. Saarela, University of Helsinki and Åbo Akademi University
The dynamics of return migration are often studied, but detailed data on the time before emigration and after return are often missing in large-scale empirical studies. Without this information, discussions regarding motivations for return may be misleading. While many studies make assumptions regarding return motives, these assumptions can only be confirmed using information regarding the individuals’ behavior in the home country. This study uses a unique register-based dataset containing information on Finnish individuals in Finland and Sweden, developed through the first-ever large-scale cross-boundary register merging. We study 21,575 individuals of working age observed making their first migration to Sweden 1988-2004. Results indicate that return migration risk varies by mother tongue (some Finns are native Swedish speakers), and that there is a U-shaped distribution to return risks by income, with highest risks at the lowest and highest incomes. Data on the individuals in Finland is available and will be included.