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Seasonal Migration and Risk Aversion

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  • Gharad Bryan
  • Shyamal Chowdhury
  • A. Mushfiq Mobarak

    ()

Abstract

Pre-harvest lean seasons are widespread in the agrarian areas of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Every year, these seasonal famines force millions of people to succumb to poverty and hunger. An incentive of $8.50 is assigned to households in Bangladesh to out-migrate during the lean season, and document a set of striking facts. The incentive induces 22 per cent of households to send a seasonal migrant, consumption at the origin increases by 30 per cent (550-700 calories per person per day) for the family members of induced migrants, and follow-up data show that treated households continue to re-migrate at a higher rate after the incentive is removed. The migration rate is 10 percentage points higher in treatment areas a year later, and three years later it is still 8 percentage points higher. These facts can be explained by a model with three key elements: (a) experimenting with the new activity is risky, given uncertain prospects at the destination, (b) overcoming the risk requires individual-specific learning (e.g. resolving the uncertainty about matching to an employer), and (c) some migrants are close to subsistence and the risk of failure is very costly. A model with these features is tested by examining heterogeneity in take-up and re-migration, and by conducting a new experiment with a migration insurance treatment. Several pieces of evidence consistent with the model are documented. [BREAD Working Paper No. 319]. URL:[http://ipl.econ.duke.edu/bread/papers/working/319.pdf].

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by eSocialSciences in its series Working Papers with number id:4650.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:4650

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Keywords: Migration; Risk Aversion; Asia ; Sub-Saharan Africa; pre-harvest; agrarian areas; poverty; hunger; northwestern Bangladesh; developing countries; capital investments; productivity; health; education; trade; agriculture; Bangladeshi households;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Baez, Javier E. & Kronick, Dorothy & Mason, Andrew D., 2012. "Rural Households in a Changing Climate," IZA Discussion Papers 6872, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Beam, Emily & McKenzie, David & Yang, Dean, 2013. "Unilateral facilitation does not raise international labor migration from the Philippines," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6689, The World Bank.
  3. Grant Miller & A. Mushfiq Mobarak, 2013. "Gender Differences in Preferences, Intra-Household Externalities, and Low Demand for Improved Cookstoves," NBER Working Papers 18964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John Gibson & David McKenzie & Halahingano Rohorua, 2013. "Development Impacts of Seasonal and Temporary Migration: A Review of Evidence from the Pacific and Southeast Asia," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1308, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  5. David McKenzie, 2012. "Learning about migration through experiments," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1207, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  6. Douglas Gollin, 2012. "The Agricultural Productivity Gap in Developing Countries," 2012 Meeting Papers 510, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Rentschler, Jun E., 2013. "Why resilience matters - the poverty impacts of disasters," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6699, The World Bank.

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