We started our analysis by focusing on two different indicators of job seeker interest in cross border opportunities:
- Inbound share which captures the flow of foreign-based job seekers looking for jobs in a country as a share of that country’s total job search traffic on Indeed.
- Outbound share which captures the flow of domestic job seekers looking for jobs in other countries as a share of all searches from people physically based in the sending countries.
So how do these indicators capture the degree of participation of a country in the international labor market? Similar to the dynamics behind the import and export of goods we find that with a few exceptions, countries that have high inbound shares also have high outbound shares.
Hence, more than a measure of how much a country imports or exports job seekers, these two numbers also offer an indication of how embedded a given labor market may be in the global exchange of job seekers.
The few exceptions to this trend are countries that share exceptional characteristics. Crisis-stricken economies such as Venezuela and Greece have much higher outbound shares. In fact, 42.7% of all job seekers in Venezuela on Indeed were looking for opportunities outside the country in 2016; for Greece, the number was: 27.5%. Meanwhile very few job seekers are searching inside the countries, most likely due to their lack of opportunities, low wages and declining standards of living.
At the other end of the spectrum, we see two countries with much larger inbound than outbound shares: Luxembourg and Switzerland. Here we find 68.3% and 21.3% of job seekers are looking for work domestically, versus 39.9% and 10% looking outside. Likely explanations for this include the high level of wages and standard of living in both countries, plus the high concentration of international organizations and multinational firms in each of them.
The bulk of the 49 countries we looked at, however, find themselves well in between these two groups of outliers. Having established that both indicators capture the degree of participation of a country in the international labor market, we focused on the inbound share as our measure of choice.