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A Social Proximity Explanation of the Reluctance to Assimilate

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  • C. Simon Fan
  • Oded Stark

Abstract

The pursuit of migration is an extreme example of the severing of ties with, or a distancing from, one's friends and home. The 'failure' of migrants to assimilate cannot plausibly be attributed merely to an urge to stay close to their friends, or they might not have migrated to begin with. Non-assimilation arises from a fear of enhanced relative deprivation if they reduce their distance from the natives as a reference group. Fundamentally, migration is a change of those with whom people associate. But it would be wrong to infer that a change of associates crowds out a change of behavior, given the associates. Through their actions, migrants can elect to associate more with some groups, less with others. However, when actions to keep in check the weight accorded to the rich natives as a reference group are not viable, the very choice of migration destination could be affected in an unexpected way: a country that is not so rich could be preferable to a country that is rich; migrants will protect themselves from an unfavorable comparison by not migrating to where the comparison, when unavoidable, would be highly unfavorable. Relatedly, the variance in the assimilation effort of migrants across host countries could arise from the variance in the income distance with the natives: the richer the natives, the weaker the effort to assimilate, other things held the same. Copyright 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Kyklos.

Volume (Year): 60 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (02)
Pages: 55-63

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Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:60:y:2007:i:1:p:55-63

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  1. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Culture and Language," NBER Working Papers 5249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-24, May.
  3. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  4. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002, August.
  5. Borjas, George J & Bronars, Stephen G & Trejo, Stephen J, 1992. "Assimilation and the Earnings of Young Internal Migrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 170-75, February.
  6. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
  7. Christine Eibner & William N. Evans, 2005. "Relative Deprivation, Poor Health Habits, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
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Cited by:
  1. Peter Huber & Klaus Nowotny & Julia Bock-Schappelwein, 2010. "Qualification Structure, Over- and Underqualification of the Foreign Born in Austria and the EU," FIW Research Reports series II-008, FIW.
  2. Klaus Nowotny, 2011. "Welfare Magnets, Taxation and the Location Decisions of Migrants to the EU," ERSA conference papers ersa11p133, European Regional Science Association.
  3. Stark, Oded, 2014. "On the economics of others," Discussion Papers 164965, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  4. Hyll, Walter & Stark, Oded, 2011. "On the economic architecture of the workplace: repercussions of social comparisons amongst heterogeneous workers," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 6, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  5. Stark, Oded, 2010. "Looking at the Integration of Nations through the Lens of the Merger of Populations: Preliminary Superadditivity and Impossibility Results," MPRA Paper 28701, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2011. "Migration for degrading work as an escape from humiliation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 241-247, March.
  7. Junko Doi & Laixun Zhao, 2012. "Immigration Conflicts," Discussion Paper Series DP2012-29, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, revised Dec 2012.
  8. Stark, Oded & Dorn, Agnieszka, 2012. "Do family ties with those left behind intensify or weaken migrants' assimilation?," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 45, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  9. Stark, Oded & Jakubek, Marcin, 2013. "Migration networks as a response to financial constraints: Onset, and endogenous dynamics," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 1-7.

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