Migration and Online Job Search: A Gravity Model Approach

April 2018

Tara Sinclair and Mariano Mamertino

IIEP Working Paper 2018-3

Abstract: Most studies of migration focus on realized migration. Data on realized migration take substantial time to collect and are available to researchers and policymakers only at a significant delay. In this study we consider a new potential data source in the form of tracking the patterns of online job seekers actively searching for a job in a country other than their current home. The advance of internet job search allows job seekers to explore international employment options before making a decision to move. We characterize job seeker interest across national borders by looking at user behavior on a major job search website. We investigate the determinants of cross-border job search using a standard gravity model and find that both the determinants and the relative importance of the determinants for job search are strikingly similar to those for past realized migration. This suggests both that job seekers are likely to act on their international job search and that these data may be useful for predicting future migration patterns. We use our results to explore the labor market mobility implications of a country, such as the UK, leaving the EU and find that leaving the EU may have international immigration impacts similar to increasing the distance between the leaver and the other EU countries by over one third.

JEL Codes: J6, J4, F22, O15

Keywords: international migration, labor mobility, online labor markets, European Union, Brexit

GW is committed to digital accessibility. If you experience a barrier that affects your ability to access content on this page, let us know via the Accessibility Feedback Form.