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Migration and mental health: Evidence from a natural experiment

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  • Stillman, Steven
  • McKenzie, David
  • Gibson, John

Abstract

People migrate to improve their well-being. Yet a large literature suggests that migration can be a stressful process, with potentially negative impacts on mental health. However, to truly understand the effect of migration one must compare the mental health of migrants to what their mental health would be had they stayed in their home country. The existing literature is not able to do this. New Zealand allows a quota of Tongans to immigrate each year with a random ballot used to choose amongst the excess number of applicants. Experimental estimates of the mental health effects of migration are obtained by comparing the mental health of migrants who were successful applicants in the random ballot to the mental health of those who applied to migrate under the quota, but whose names were not drawn. Migration is found to lead to improvements in mental health, particularly for women and those with poor mental health.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 28 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 677-687

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:28:y:2009:i:3:p:677-687

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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Keywords: Migration Mental health Natural experiment;

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  1. Joshua D. Angrist, 2004. "Treatment effect heterogeneity in theory and practice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages C52-C83, 03.
  2. David McKenzie & John Gibson & Steven Stillman, 2006. "How Important is Selection? Experimental vs Non-experimental Measures of Income Gains from Migration," Working Papers in Economics 06/03, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  3. David McKenzie & Steven Stillman & John Gibson, 2010. "How Important is Selection? Experimental VS. Non‐Experimental Measures of the Income Gains from Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 913-945, 06.
  4. James Heckman & Neil Hohmann & Jeffrey Smith & Michael Khoo, 2000. "Substitution And Dropout Bias In Social Experiments: A Study Of An Influential Social Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 651-694, May.
  5. Victor Chernozhukov & Christian Hansen, 2005. "An IV Model of Quantile Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(1), pages 245-261, 01.
  6. Das, Jishnu & Do, Quy-Toan & Friedman, Jed & McKenzie, David & Scott, Kinnon, 2007. "Mental health and poverty in developing countries: Revisiting the relationship," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 467-480, August.
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