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Network effects and the dynamics of migration and inequality: Theory and evidence from Mexico

  • Mckenzie, David
  • Rapoport, Hillel

International migration is costly and initially only the middle class of the wealth distribution may have both the means and incentives to migrate, increasing inequality in the sending community. However, the migration networks formed lower the costs for future migrants, which can in turn lower inequality. This paper shows both theoretically and empirically that wealth has a nonlinear effect on migration, and then examines the empirical evidence for an inverse U-shaped relationship between emigration and inequality in rural sending communities in Mexico. After instrumenting, we find that the overall impact of migration is to reduce inequality across communities with relatively high levels of past migration. We also find some suggestive evidence for an inverse U-shaped relationship among communities with a wider range of migration experiences.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 84 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (September)
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:84:y:2007:i:1:p:1-24
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  1. Frederic Docquier & Hillel Rapoport & I-Ling Shen, 2006. "Remittances and inequality: A dynamic migration model," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0614, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  2. Kanbur, Ravi & Rapoport, Hillel, 2003. "Migration Selectivity And The Evolution Of Spatial Inequality," Working Papers 127769, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  3. Antonio Spilimbergo & Gordon H. Hanson, 1999. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1337-1357, December.
  4. Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2005. "Self-selection among undocumented immigrants from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 215-240, October.
  5. Gathmann, Christina, 2004. "The Effects of Enforcement on Illegal Markets: Evidence from Migrant Smuggling along the Southwestern Border," IZA Discussion Papers 1004, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  7. Barham, Bradford & Boucher, Stephen, 1998. "Migration, remittances, and inequality: estimating the net effects of migration on income distribution," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 307-331, April.
  8. David McKenzie, 2005. "Measuring inequality with asset indicators," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 18(2), pages 229-260, 06.
  9. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2002. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," NBER Working Papers 9242, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ira N. Gang & Thomas Bauer & Gil S. Epstein, 2002. "Herd Effects or Migration Networks? The Location Choice of Mexican Immigrants in the U.S," Departmental Working Papers 200216, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  11. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond Robertson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2002. "Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers From Illegal Immigration?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 73-92, February.
  12. Verbeek, M. & Nijman, T., 1990. "Can Cohort Data Be Treated As Genuine Panel Data," Papers 9064, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  13. 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.
  14. Rapoport, Hillel & Docquier, Frederic, 2006. "The Economics of Migrants' Remittances," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
  15. Sarah Dolfin & Garance Genicot, 2010. "What Do Networks Do? The Role of Networks on Migration and "Coyote" Use," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(2), pages 343-359, 05.
  16. Roger Koenker & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "Quantile Regression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 143-156, Fall.
  17. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks in the Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants in the U. S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599.
  18. Newey, Whitney K., 1987. "Efficient estimation of limited dependent variable models with endogenous explanatory variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 231-250, November.
  19. George J. Borjas & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "The Evolution of the Mexican-Born Workforce in the United States," NBER Working Papers 11281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Adams, Richard H, Jr, 1989. "Worker Remittances and Inequality in Rural Egypt," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 45-71, October.
  21. repec:pid:journl:v:31:y:1992:i:4:p:1189-1206 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Woodruff, Christopher & Zenteno, Rene, 2007. "Migration networks and microenterprises in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 509-528, March.
  23. Mishra, Prachi, 2007. "Emigration and wages in source countries: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 180-199, January.
  24. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1986. "Remittances and Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(383), pages 722-40, September.
  25. Taylor, J. Edward, 1992. "Remittances and inequality reconsidered: Direct, indirect, and intertemporal effects," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 187-208, April.
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