Essays on the Economics of Migration and Geography

Laura Ansala

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This thesis consists of three empirical essays examining the consequences of migration and residential choices from the perspective of moving individuals. The first essay examines whether Finnish children's completion of upper secondary education is associated with the upper secondary completion rates they are exposed to in their childhood municipalities of residence. The empirical estimation exploits between-sibling variation in moving siblings' childhood exposure to completion rates to account for families' non-random sorting into municipalities based on their unobservable characteristics. Conditional on these unobservables, children with a 10 percentage points higher exposure to completion rates in their childhood municipalities have a 1.9 percentage points higher likelihood of completing the degree themselves. Children with a more disadvantaged family background respond stronger to their childhood exposure. The impact of childhood exposure to completion rates does not reflect influences arising from changes in children's own family conditions, differences in other socio-economic characteristics of their childhood municipalities, or geographical differences in the access or returns to upper secondary education. The second essay investigates immigrants' labor market entry in Finland and Sweden, host countries with similar labor market institutions but large differences in their immigration histories. Nonetheless, immigrants' early integration processes in the two countries are remarkably similar. Immigrants tend to enter low-wage establishments where coworkers and the manager often are from the same origin region, but there is notable variation in entry characteristics by immigrants' region of origin. The characteristics of entry jobs are strong predictors of immigrants' entry and future earnings and job stability in the host country. The results suggest there are regularities in immigrants' labor market integration and ethnic segregation that are largely independent of the immigration history and ethnic diversity of the host country. The final essay documents the educational, crime and medical use outcomes of immigrant youth living in Finland and discusses what they suggest in terms of their integration into the Finnish society. The essay finds that in comparison to the children of natives, immigrants' offspring obtain less education, are more likely to be sentenced of a crime, and use less medical services. However, the differences become more nuanced once we condition on other parental background characteristics, suggesting that the observed differences do not merely stem from immigrants having a worse socio-economic background or living in poorer neighbourhoods than natives. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that Finnish welfare services designed to aid disadvantaged native youth do not similarly reach children of immigrants.
Translated title of the contributionEsseitä muuttoliikkeen ja maantieteen taloustieteestä
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Liski, Matti, Supervising Professor
  • Sarvimäki, Matti, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8206-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8208-0
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • economic geography
  • migration
  • education


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