Darling you got to let me know // Should I stay or should I go?
One way to escape poverty is to leave it behind. Literally. Moving from a poorer to richer area is so advantageous for individuals that an entire literature on migration has developed to explain why more people don't move.
If you say that you are mine // I’ll be here ‘till the end of time
Bryan, Chowdhury, and Mobarak conducted an experiment in northwestern Bangladesh to induce migration. They offered households a small subsidy to migrate, a round-trip bus ticket worth $8.50. This proved sufficient for people to migrate, and those who migrated earned more and enjoyed higher levels of welfare. So it brought up a new question: why hadn’t those households already decided to migrate?
This immobility is problematic because it’s not supposed to happen. Foundational migration theories, like the Harris-Todaro model, were designed to explain movement from poorer to richer areas. These migrations made sense: people were arbitraging wages and other amenities across space, receiving more by being elsewhere. But how can we explain the opposite—people who don’t migrate—when the welfare gains would be tremendous?
If I go, there will be trouble // if I stay it will be double
In my job market paper I explain why people rationally would not make moves that offer higher welfare. I do this by modeling migration as a sequential decision where people try to figure out which location would suit them best.
- Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond/should you send your kid to a better school? Kellogg insight on work by Roland Fryer and co-authors on how peer effects play out with relative rank changes.
- A new paper puts together intra-cluster correlation coefficients for designing cluster education experiments in Africa. (h/t Dave Evans)
This is the eighth in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.
A key problem in the literature on the economics of migration is how emigration of an individual affects the welfare of households left behind (see Antman (2013) for a literature overview). The literature has worried a lot about the possibility that households that select into migration are different from those that don’t. A whole range of different IV approaches, along with a few migration lottery experiments have tried to address this form of selection. However, the literature has worried less about (and been less successful dealing with) a second form of selection, namely that some households do not leave any member behind. I call this invisible sample selection since these all-move households are not observed at all in the standard household surveys in origin countries used in most studies (and also not in many other datasets). But failing to account for this problem leads to biased estimates, as explained below and shown in this graphical illustration.
International mobility of people is measured much less accurately than that of goods or finances. The most common sources of global data are from national censuses, which occur only every 10 years (and take years more to come out). Specialized surveys in some countries allow more frequent measurement of some flows, but such data are still relatively rare, and poorly suited to studying short-term migration movements.
Since I’ve had three emails in one week asking me about this issue, I figured I might as well blog about it and have something to refer people to instead. The questions have all been variants of:
· Are women better remitters than men?
· Does having mothers migrate result in worse outcomes for kids than having their fathers migrate?
Several countries around the world (notably Australia and Canada) have migration points systems- score above some points threshold and you can come in, score below and you can’t. This has intrigued me with the possibility of a regression-discontinuity design to measure impacts of migrating. However, there are several problems – the points given tend to be lumpy (e.g.