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Tajik work migrants in Russia


Chernina, Eugenia & Lokshin, Michael (2012). Tajik work migrants in Russia.


In 1990s Russia experienced a migrant inflow from the republics of the ex Soviet Union which picked in 1992-1995. 65% of the migrants were ethnic Russians. In 2000s rapidly recovering from the financial crisis of 1998 Russian economy began to attract temporary labor migrants. The number of the latter quickly exceeded the immigrant flow: according to official statistics the number of labor migrants increased 11 times during the period 1999-2008: from 211 thsd to 2426 thsd. The officially registered migrants make 3.1% of labor force in Russia. In some industries the share of migrants is much higher, for instance, in construction industry it is 16%. Experts estimate illegal migration from 3.2 to 5.2 mln, considering these estimates share of migrants in Russian labor force
reaches 4,7-7,7%. According to Federal Migratory Service of Russia (FMS) main donor countries for Russia are Central Asian ex-soviet republics (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan), Ukrain, China (see table 1). The push factors for labor migrant flow increase are high unemployment and low wages in migrants native countries, while the main pull factor is high demand for low-skill labor in Russia. Despite migrants are significant group at Russian labor market there have been little economic analysis of migrants performance while this question is extremely important for migration policy decisions. This paper considers the wage differential between migrants and natives in Russia. We find that in 2009 migrants earn 15% less than comparable citizens of Russia. We also make use of our data to describe a profile of migrant in Russia and analyze the selection process. We find evidence for intermediate selection on observable characteristics. The literature about labor migration in Russia has mostly been demographic and sociologist studies. Demographers view migration as a source of compensation the decreasing work-age population in Russia (e.g., see Vishnevsky, 2010) while sociologists present works that describe the life of migrants in Russia (e.g. see Zayonchkovskaya, Tyuryukanova (2010)). The only paper we are aware of that undertakes economic analysis of migration in Russia is Lazareva(2008) where author exploits natural experiment of immigration from former soviet republics. Lazareva shows that migration had equalizing effect on Russian regional labor markets in presence of barriers for internal migration. The limitations on research in this area are due to data unavailability. Our paper is using migrant flows from Tajikistan to analyze labor migration to Russia. Tajik migrants make 16% of the migrant flow to Russia. Tajik economy is highly dependent of migrant remittances which made 31% of GDP in 2010 according to World Bank. That makes Tajikistan the world top remittance-receiving country as a share of GDP. In case of Tajikistan strong push factors are present: Tajikistan has the lowest wage and GDP per capita among CIS countries.
In this paper we use 2007 and 2009 rounds of World Bank’s Tajik Living Standards Survey (TLSS). The survey is a unique source of information about life of Tajik households, including labor migration. As the survey takes place in Tajikistan it avoids problems of refuses to participate in the survey and incentives to misreport information concerning legality and income in Russia. There already exist number of papers that use Tajik Living Standards Survey for analysis of migration: Danzer, Ivaschenko (2010), Kroeger, Meier (2011), Atamanov, van den Berg (2011),Abdulloev, Gang, Landon-Lane (2011). While the above papers consider
the households choice of strategy at the labor market, our paper looks at the date from the receiving country point of view. Using TLSS we describe the profile of typical Tajik migrant in Russia. Further, we combine the TLSS with The Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) to analyze the wage gap between migrants and natives in Russia. In migrant profile we are interested in such factors as education, knowledge of Russian language, migrant family composition and some other personal characteristics that are unavailable from surveys conducted in Russia. We also describe the migration strategy: the length of stay, legality,
earnings, and remittances. To analyze the gap we compare the actual earnings of migrants and earnings predicted using the wage equation for Russian citizens. The answers to the questions we put in our paper are important for migration policy analysis in Russia. Migration policy in Russia is not selective. The quota system in Russia seems to be ineffective for managing migration flows2. Migration streams are rather formed by self-selection procedures in the sending countries which seems to be adverse for Russia: the qualification of migrants has been decreasing in recent years (see Zayonchkovskaya, Tyuryukanova (2010)). Our analysis shows that one of the reasons for deteriorating migrant “quality” could be the position migrants occupy at the receiving country labor market.
The paper is organized as follows. First we briefly describe the literature that that concerns our paper and formulate
a simple model of selection into migration. Then we describe the migrant profile. Finally, we estimate the wage gap between migrants and natives in Russia.


Reference Type

Conference Paper

Year Published



Chernina, Eugenia
Lokshin, Michael