A land of milk and honey with streets paved with gold: Do emigrants have over-optimistic expectations about incomes abroad?
AbstractMillions of people emigrate every year in search of better economic and social opportunities. Anecdotal evidence suggests that emigrants may have over-optimistic expectations about the incomes they can earn abroad, resulting in excessive migration pressure, and in disappointment amongst those who do migrate. Yet there is almost no statistical evidence on how accurately these emigrants predict the incomes that they will earn working abroad. In this paper we combine a natural emigration experiment with unique survey data on would-be emigrants' probabilistic expectations about employment and incomes in the migration destination. Our procedure enables us to obtain moments and quantiles of the subjective distribution of expected earnings in the destination country. We find a significant underestimation of both unconditional and conditional labor earnings at all points in the distribution. This under-estimation appears driven in part by potential migrants placing too much weight on the negative employment experiences of some migrants, and by inaccurate information flows from extended family, who may be trying to moderate remittance demands by understating incomes.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London in its series CReAM Discussion Paper Series with number 0709.
Date of creation: May 2007
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Expectations; Migration; Natural Experiment;
Other versions of this item:
- McKenzie, David & Gibson, John & Stillman, Steven, 2013. "A land of milk and honey with streets paved with gold: Do emigrants have over-optimistic expectations about incomes abroad?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 116-127.
- McKenzie, David & Gibson, John & Stillman, Steven, 2007. "A land of milk and honey with streets paved with gold : do emigrants have over-optimistic expectations about incomes abroad ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4141, The World Bank.
- McKenzie, David & Gibson, John & Stillman, Steven, 2007. "A Land of Milk and Honey with Streets Paved with Gold: Do Emigrants Have Over-Optimistic Expectations about Incomes Abroad?," IZA Discussion Papers 2788, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
- F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
- J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, and Vacancies - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-06-23 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2007-06-23 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-DEV-2007-06-23 (Development)
- NEP-LAB-2007-06-23 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-MIG-2007-06-23 (Economics of Human Migration)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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.
- McKenzie, David & Gibson, John & Stillman, Steven, 2006.
"How Important Is Selection? Experimental vs. Non-Experimental Measures of the Income Gains from Migration,"
IZA Discussion Papers
2087, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- 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.
- David McKenzie & John Gibson & Steven Stillman, 2010. "How Important Is Selection? Experimental vs. Non-Experimental Measures of the Income Gains from Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 913-945, 06.
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- One evaluation, one paper? Getting more for your money
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