Israeli-born emigrants: Size, destinations and selectivity

Yinon Cohen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article addresses two issues regarding Israeli emigrants. First, it focuses on their number and distribution in various destination countries; second, it deals with patterns of self-selection among emigrants, namely, the skill level of Israelis who select themselves to leave Israel for various destination countries. The findings suggest that Israeli emigration has increased in the past two decades, but that most of the increase was in the 1990s, and was due to the emigration of foreign-born Israelis, rather than the emigration of native-born Israelis. Based on the DIOC (Database on immigrants in OECD countries) about 164,000 Israeli-born emigrants, aged 15 years and over, resided in 25 OECD countries in 2000, suggesting that relative to other countries, the share of Israeli-born residing outside Israel is not high. Two-thirds of Israeli-born emigrants were in the US, and 85 percent in the Anglo-Saxon countries. The selectivity of Israeli emigrants, measured by education and occupation, is most positive in the Anglo-Saxon countries, especially the US, where the returns on skills are the highest. By contrast, the least skilled Israeli emigrants choose Scandinavian countries, where the labor markets are relatively rigid, and returns on skills tend to be the lowest. These findings are consistent with migration selectivity theory, which anticipates that high-skilled immigrants will choose destinations where their skills will be generously compensated. Finally, the results suggests that the educational selectivity of Israeli emigrants to the Anglo-Saxon countries (but not to Scandinavian countries) has improved in the late 1990s compared to the early 1990s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-62
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Israel
  • educational selectivity
  • emigration
  • immigration
  • self-selection


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