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Direct Evidence on Risk Attitudes and Migration

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Author Info

  • David A. Jaeger

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

  • Holger Bonin

    ()
    (IZA)

  • Thomas Dohmen

    ()
    (IZA)

  • Armin Falk

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Bonn)

  • David Huffman

    ()
    (IZA)

  • Uwe Sunde

    ()
    (IZA)

Abstract

Geographic mobility is important for the functioning of labor markets because it brings labor resources to where they can be most efficiently used. It has long been hypothesized that individuals' migration propensities depend on their attitudes towards risk, but the empirical evidence, to the extent that it exists, has been indirect. In this paper, we use newly available data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to measure directly the relationship between migration propensities and attitudes towards risk. We find that individuals who are more willing to take risks are more likely to migrate between labor markets in Germany. This result is robust to stratifying by age, sex, education, national origin, and a variety of other demographic characteristics, as well as to the level of aggregation used to define geographic mobility. The effect is substantial relative to the unconditional migration propensity and compared to the conventional determinants of migration. We also find that being more willing to take risks is more important for the extensive than for the intensive margin of migration.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, College of William and Mary in its series Working Papers with number 50.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:50

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Keywords: risk aversion; migration; Germany;

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  1. Daveri, Francesco & Faini, Riccardo, 1999. "Where Do Migrants Go?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(4), pages 595-622, October.
  2. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 511, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Stark, Oded & Levhari, David, 1982. "On Migration and Risk in LDCs," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 191-96, October.
  4. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2008. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," CESifo Working Paper Series 2307, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. David A. Jaeger & Holger Bonin & Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2007. "Direct Evidence on Risk Attitudes and Migration," Working Papers 50, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  6. George J. Borjas, 2001. "Does Immigration Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 69-134.
  7. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  8. Katz, Eliakim & Stark, Oded, 1986. "Labor Migration and Risk Aversion in Less Developed Countries," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 134-49, January.
  9. Axel Heitmueller, 2005. "Unemployment benefits, risk aversion, and migration incentives," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 93-112, 01.
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