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June 29, 2023: Toman Barsbai (University of Bristol)

Family-based migration (with Sebastian Kupek and Andreas Steinmayr)

Most immigrants to high-income countries arrive through family reunification: An immigrant who already resides in the destination country sponsors the visa of a family member who still lives in the country of origin. We still know little about family-based migration. We build on unique individual-level administrative data that cover all permanent Filipino migrants to the US, one of the most important migration corridors in the world. In the first step, we describe the key empirical patterns of family-based migration. We provide clean estimates of the migrant multiplier, i.e., the cumulative number of sponsored family members of each initial migrant, and show how it varies across migrants. In the second step, we present a simple conceptual framework of family-based migration. The framework departs from the standard migration model and shifts the migration decision from the potential migrant to the sponsor. We then test the model predictions with our data.