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COVID-19 and the intentions to migrate from developing countries: Evidence from online search activities in Southeast Asia

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  • Nakamura, Nobuyuki
  • Suzuki, Aya

Abstract

COVID-19 has had an enormous effect on labor markets globally. Economic restrictions, notably strict border controls and lockdowns, have led many workers to lose their jobs and forced many migrants to return to their homes or change their migration plans. While adverse effects on labor mobility are expected, variations in the prevalence of COVID-19 and governmental responses to the pandemic across countries are likely to influence workers’ intentions to migrate in different ways. To understand the effects of pandemics on the international labor supply, we explore the impact of COVID-19 and the various economic restriction policies on job search behavior by considering cases from Southeast Asian countries using the difference-in-differences (DID) approach with data from Google Trends Index (GTI). We find that the search volume of queries related to the labor market dramatically increased over time following the outbreak of COVID-19. However, we do not observe any positive impact on the search volume related to emigration, regardless of the infection control measures in the host countries. Our results imply that the job insecurity increases after the imposition of lockdown in the respective countries. On the other hand, the expectation to migrate outside of the country, which requires preparation time and incurs high costs, does not seem to have increased in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Nakamura, Nobuyuki & Suzuki, Aya, 2021. "COVID-19 and the intentions to migrate from developing countries: Evidence from online search activities in Southeast Asia," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:asieco:v:76:y:2021:i:c:s1049007821000774
    DOI: 10.1016/j.asieco.2021.101348
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; Migration; Google trends; Unemployment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C55 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Large Data Sets: Modeling and Analysis
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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