A long-standing and ongoing severe economic crisis, which was exacerbated in 2006 with the expiration of federal corporate income tax breaks, sharply deteriorating economic conditions, and the implementation of an unprecedented sales tax, resulted in a mass exodus of over half a million residents from Puerto Rico to the mainland between 2006 and 2014. This dramatic population shift has economic, demographic, and social implications for both the island and mainland, particularly if the net outmigration is not skill-neutral. Our study addresses whether higher-skilled or lower-skilled migrants were disproportionately represented in the net outmigration flow. Using public-use microdata from the American Community Survey and the Puerto Rican Community Survey, our findings suggest that the recent migration wave has not been characterized by a select group of highly educated individuals. Instead, the skill levels among migrants between the island and mainland have been volatile with respect to both observable and unobservable skills and other characteristics after 2006 (the latter being measured in terms of unexplained earnings differentials with non-Hispanic whites). Our findings also point to how rapidly net migration flows respond to changing economic and sociopolitical conditions between the island and mainland, and how skill-based migration continues to depend on systemic conditions between the regions.

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