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Migrating Away from a Seasonal Famine: A Randomized Intervention in Bangladesh

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Author Info

  • Shyamal Chowdhury

    ()
    (University of Sydney)

  • Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

    ()
    (School of Management at Yale University)

  • Gharad Bryan

    (Yale University)

Abstract

The rural northwestern districts of Bangladesh, home to 10 million people, experience a preharvest seasonal famine, locally known as Monga, with disturbing regularity. Surprisingly, outmigration from the Monga-prone districts is not all that common. This research tests whether migration could play any role in Monga mitigation. We implemented a randomized intervention that provided monetary incentives to individuals in Monga-prone regions to seasonally outmigrate during the pre-harvest season. We experimentally varied the conditionalities attached to the incentives, such as a requirement to form a group and migrate jointly (as opposed to migrating individually), sometimes assigning migration partners and the destination, and varying group size. This paper reports just the first stage results of this randomized intervention project, where we focus on household responsiveness to our incentive offers in terms of their decision to migrate. Our cash and credit incentives had a very large effect on migration propensity: over 40% of those receiving an incentive choose to migrate, whereas only 13% of control households do. This large effect is consistent with the presence of savings or borrowing constraints for these households, since providing information on wages and employment conditions at destinations only has a negligible 2 percentage point impact on the propensity to migrate relative to the control group.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its series Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) with number HDRP-2009-41.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision: Sep 2009
Publication status: Published as background research for the 2009 Human Development Report.
Handle: RePEc:hdr:papers:hdrp-2009-41

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Keywords: Monga; famine; Bangladesh; migration;

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References

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  1. Stark, Oded & Bloom, David E, 1985. "The New Economics of Labor Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 173-78, May.
  2. Todaro, Michael P, 1969. "A Model for Labor Migration and Urban Unemployment in Less Developed Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 138-48, March.
  3. Carrington, William J & Detragiache, Enrica & Vishwanath, Tara, 1996. "Migration with Endogenous Moving Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 909-30, September.
  4. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks In The Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants In The U.S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599, May.
  5. Beatriz Armendariz & Jonathan Morduch, 2007. "The Economics of Microfinance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262512017.
  6. 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.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Borrowing constraints and (seasonal) famines
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-01-19 15:00:00
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Cited by:
  1. Aker, Jenny C. & Clemens, Michael A. & Ksoll, Christopher, 2011. "Mobiles and mobility: The Effect of Mobile Phones on Migration in Niger," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 2, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  2. Jonathan Colmer, 2013. "Climate Variability, Child Labour and Schooling: Evidence on the Intensive and Extensive Margin," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 132, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  3. Khandker, Shahidur R. & Khaleque, M. Abdul & Samad, Hussain A., 2011. "Can social safety nets alleviate seasonal deprivation ? evidence from northwest Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5865, The World Bank.
  4. Benjamin Marx & Thomas Stoker & Tavneet Suri, 2013. "The Economics of Slums in the Developing World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 187-210, Fall.
  5. Jonathan Colmer, 2013. "Climate Variability, Child Labour and Schooling: Evidence on the Intensive and Extensive Margin," Working Papers 2013.81, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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