In this article, we analyze individual factors and situational conditions under which immigrants are more or less likely to invest in host country-specific human capital. Theoretically, we root our expectations in a strand of the immigrant human capital investment model combined with a basic model of educational decisions. Using a choice experiment, we simulate a decision process among refugees in Germany and examine the determinants of investment preferences into host country-specific credentials, such as vocational education, as an alternative to an immediately available job offer. The choice experiment was introduced in the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees, a representative longitudinal survey of recently arrived refugees in Germany. We find that refugees’ intentions of investing in vocational education are guided by the transferability of foreign human capital, the time horizon to reap investments, and rational cost–benefit calculations. The probability of success is influential on its own but also bolsters the relevance of costs and benefits in educational choices.

DOI: 10.1016/j.rssm.2021.100610
ISSN: 0276-5624