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Abstract

Africa’s experience with return migration is not new. However, few empirical studies have examined the social and economic characteristics of returning migrants within the continent. In this study, the human capital endowments and household living standards of returning migrants in Uganda and South Africa are examined using recently available data. The study compares returnees in both countries with immigrants as well as the native-born population with no international migration experience. It also investigates how factors such as previous country of residence, year of arrival, and other demographic factors predict levels of education and living standards among returning migrants. In Uganda, the results show that recently arrived returning migrants had better educational endowments than both immigrants and non-migrants. Migrants who returned to Uganda following the fall of Idi Amin’s regime had the lowest educational levels and lowest living standards compared to other returnees. Furthermore, the results indicate that previous residence in countries in the West was associated with four additional years of schooling while returning migrants arriving from other African countries had the lowest levels of schooling among returning migrants. In South Africa, the study finds that returnees arriving almost immediately following the end of Apartheid had the highest levels of education compared to either immigrants or non-migrants. Returnees on average also had the highest household living standards in South Africa. Among South African immigrants, the results indicate that those arriving towards the end of the century had lower educational endowments compared to immigrants who arrived in the country two to four years after the end of Apartheid.