Last Updated:

20/08/2020 - 16:10

The research article “Do Emigrants Self-Select Along Cultural Traits? Evidence from the MENA Countries”, co-authored by METU member Prof. Aysıt Tansel, has been published in International Migration Review.

This article empirically investigates whether emigrants from MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries self-select along two cultural traits: religiosity and gender-egalitarian attitudes. Using Gallup World Poll data on individual opinions and beliefs and migration aspirations, we find that individuals who intend to emigrate to high-income countries exhibit significantly lower levels of religiosity than the rest of the population. They also share more gender-egalitarian views, although this effect holds only among the young (aged 15 to 30), among single women, and in countries with a Sunni minority. For countries most affected by the Arab Spring, the intensity of cultural selection has decreased since 2011. Still, the aggregate effects of cultural selection should not be overestimated. Self-selection along cultural traits has statistically significant but limited effects on the cultural distance between people (i.e., between migrants and natives at destination or between non-migrants in origin and destination countries). Emigration could even reverse the selection effect and lead to cultural convergence if migrants abroad transfer more progressive norms and beliefs to their home country, a mechanism that deserves more attention in future research.

Docquier, F., Tansel, A., & Turati, R. (2020). Do emigrants self-select along cultural traits? evidence from the MENA countries. International Migration Review, 54(2), 388-422. doi:10.1177/0197918319849011


Article access:

METU Author

Prof. Aysıt Tansel Scopus Author ID: 6701391612
About the author


F22, 015, J61, Z10

Other authors:
Docquier, F. & Turati, R.

The authors are grateful to Michel Beine, Bastien Chab?-Ferret, William Parient?, Christopher Parsons, Pedro Vicente, the editor, and anonymous referees for helpful comments. This article has also benefited from discussions at the FEMISE Annual Conference (Casablanca, May 2017), at the Workshop on ?Migration and Conflicts? (Louvain-la-Neuve, June 2017), at the CEMIR Junior Economist Workshop on Migration Research (Munich, June 2017), and at the EDP Jamboree (Bonn, September 2017). The author(s) disclosed the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This article has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union within the context of the European Commission-FEMISE project on ?Support to Economic Research, Studies and Dialogue of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership? (Agreement No. FEM42-03).