The Dynamics of Repeat Migration: A Markov Chain Analysis


  • April 13, 2011, Financial support from Volkswagen Foundation for the IZA project on “The Economics and Persistence of Migrant Ethnicity” is gratefully acknowledged. We wish to thank an anonymous referee, conference participants of the Society of Labor Economics and the European Society for Population Economics including Gustav Feichtinger, Jennifer Hunt, and the IZAVolkswagen Ethnicity Research Team for valuable comments on earlier drafts.


This article studies repeat or circular migration between the host and home countries using panel data for Germany, distinguishing between factors generating single moves, circular migration, and absorption. Migrants are more likely to leave early after their first arrival in Germany, and when they have social and familial bonds in the home country, but less likely when they have a job in Germany and speak the language well. Once out-migrated, the return probability is mainly affected by remittances and family considerations. Circular migration is fostered by vocational training in the host country and older age. Whereas male migrants are 9 percent more likely to return to their home country than female migrants, gender is not significant for predicting the return to move back to Germany.