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Urban-Rural Gaps in the Developing World: Does Internal Migration Offer Opportunities?

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  • David Lagakos

Abstract

This article provides an overview of the growing literature on urban-rural gaps in the developing world. I begin with recent evidence on the size of the gaps as measured by consumption, income, and wages, and argue that the gaps are real rather than just nominal. I then discuss the role of sorting more able workers into urban areas and review an array of recent evidence on outcomes from rural-urban migration. Overall, migrants do experience substantial gains on average, though smaller than suggested by the cross-sectional gaps. I conclude that future work should help further explore the frictions—in particular, information, financial, and in land markets—that hold back rural-urban migration and may help explain the persistence of urban-rural gaps.

Suggested Citation

  • David Lagakos, 2020. "Urban-Rural Gaps in the Developing World: Does Internal Migration Offer Opportunities?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 174-192, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:34:y:2020:i:3:p:174-92
    DOI: 10.1257/jep.34.3.174
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    2. Braschke, Franziska & Puhani, Patrick A., 2022. "Population Adjustment to Asymmetric Labour Market Shocks in India: A Comparison to Europe and the United States at Two Different Regional Levels," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1111, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    3. Sehrish Munawar Cheema & Abdul Hannan & Ivan Miguel Pires, 2022. "Smart Waste Management and Classification Systems Using Cutting Edge Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(16), pages 1-21, August.
    4. David Lagakos & Mushfiq Mobarak & Michael Waugh, 2018. "The Welfare Effects of Encouraging Rural-Urban Migration," Working Papers 2018-002, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    5. Mian Huang & Chunbing Xing & Xiaoyong Cui, 2022. "Does College Location Affect the Location Choice of New College Graduates in China?," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 30(3), pages 135-160, May.
    6. Busso, Matias & Chauvin, Juan Pablo & Herrera L., Nicolás, 2021. "Rural-urban migration at high urbanization levels," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    7. Fried, Stephie & Lagakos, David, 2021. "Rural electrification, migration and structural transformation: Evidence from Ethiopia," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    8. Karim Bekhtiar, 2022. "Robotization, Internal Migration and Rural Depopulation in Austria," Economics working papers 2022-07, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    9. Qingen Gai & Naijia Guo & Bingjing Li & Qinghua Shi & Xiaodong Zhu, 2021. "Migration Costs, Sorting, and the Agricultural Productivity Gap," Working Papers tecipa-693, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    10. Selod, Harris & Shilpi, Forhad, 2021. "Rural-urban migration in developing countries: Lessons from the literature," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    11. Maria Caridad Araujo & Karen Macours, 2021. "Education, Income and Mobility: Experimental Impacts of Childhood Exposure to Progresa after 20 Years," Working Papers halshs-03364972, HAL.
    12. Kirchberger, Martina, 2021. "Measuring internal migration," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    13. Joshua D. Merfeld & Peter Brummund, 2022. "The importance of specification choices when analyzing sectoral productivity gaps," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 53(4), pages 605-616, July.
    14. Tong, Lijing & Wu, Bin & Zhang, Min, 2022. "Do auditors’ early-life socioeconomic opportunities improve audit quality? Evidence from China," The British Accounting Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2).
    15. Saumyabrata Chakrabarti & Vivekananda Mukherjee, 2020. "Birth of Census Towns in India: An Economic Analysis," South Asian Journal of Macroeconomics and Public Finance, , vol. 9(2), pages 139-166, December.
    16. Hao, Yu & Zhang, Zong-Yong & Yang, Chuxiao & Wu, Haitao, 2021. "Does structural labor change affect CO2 emissions? Theoretical and empirical evidence from China," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 171(C).
    17. Tushar Bharati & Wina Yoman, 2021. "Internal Migration and Labor Market Outcomes in Indonesia," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 21-05, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    18. Meilin Ma & Jessie Lin & Richard J. Sexton, 2022. "The Transition from Small to Large Farms in Developing Economies: A Welfare Analysis," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 104(1), pages 111-133, January.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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