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Does Low Wealth Constrain Long-Distance Migration? Evidence from the NLSY79 Cohort

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  • Peter McHenry

    ()
    (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

Abstract

Although long-distance migration can be very beneficial, some families may have too little wealth (or liquidity) to finance a move, which may involve direct transportation costs and foregone earnings. I use individual-level longitudinal data (NLSY79) to assess whether wealth holdings directly influence migration decisions in the U.S. I focus on long-distance migration between labor markets, which imposes high migration costs but offers potentially better labor market outcomes. Contrary to a liquidity constraint story, I find consistently that plenty of people with low and even negative wealth move, and that they are even more likely to move than people with higher wealth holdings. The lack of a positive relationship between wealth and cross-labor market migration remains in alternative subsets of respondents, controlling for many household characteristics, in very flexible nonlinear models, and when using inheritance income as an instrument for wealth.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, College of William and Mary in its series Working Papers with number 119.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 09 Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:119

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Keywords: Migration; Wealth;

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  1. Clark, William A.V. & van Ham, Maarten & Coulter, Rory, 2011. "Socio-Spatial Mobility in British Society," IZA Discussion Papers 5861, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. John Bound & Harry J. Holzer, 1996. "Demand Shifts, Population Adjustments, and Labor Market Outcomes during the 1980s," NBER Working Papers 5685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2011. "The Incidence of Local Labor Demand Shocks," 2011 Meeting Papers 629, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Abigail Wozniak, 2010. "Are College Graduates More Responsive to Distant Labor Market Opportunities?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 944-970.
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