Cousins From Overseas: The Labour Market Impact of Half a Million Portuguese Repatriates

Lara Bohnet

Nova School of Business and Economics and NOVAFRICA

Susana Peralta

Nova School of Business and Economics and NOVAFRICA

João Pereira dos Santos

Nova School of Business and Economics

ISSN 2183-0843
Working Paper No 2114
November 2021


This paper uses detailed census data to investigate the labour market consequences of a large, exogenous, labour market shock, exploiting the unexpected inflow of repatriates to Portugal following the end of the Portuguese Colonial War in 1974. The labour supply shock entails a composition dimension, as the repatriates were more than twice as likely to have secondary or higher education. We take advantage of the fact that most of the repatriates were Portuguese born to build novel shift-share instrumental variables based on their region of birth. We explore the impact on regional labour force participation, unemployment, employment, and entrepreneurship, for both male and female natives. We find substantial gender differences in the effects, with females absorbing the bulk of the shock. Native workers are driven out of employment as employees, with a sizeable 15% decrease for males and 55% for females. Men compensate for this loss by moving to low quality self-employment, while women move to inactivity. Our results are robust to changing the instrumental variable, the geographical unit of analysis, and to various sample restrictions.

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