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Inequality and migration: A behavioral link


  • Stark, Oded


We provide an analytical-behavioral explanation for the observed positive relationship between income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, and the incentive to migrate. We show that a higher total relative deprivation of a population leads to a stronger incentive to engage in migration for a given level of a population’s income; that total relative deprivation is positively related to the Gini coefficient; and that, consequently, the Gini coefficient and migration are positively correlated, holding the population’s income constant.
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Suggested Citation

  • Stark, Oded, 2006. "Inequality and migration: A behavioral link," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 146-152, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:91:y:2006:i:1:p:146-152

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Oded Stark & You Qiang Wang, 2000. "A Theory of Migration as a Response to Relative Deprivation," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(2), pages 131-143, May.
    3. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    4. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-715, September.
    5. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    6. David Andolfatto, 2002. "A Theory of Inalienable Property Rights," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 382-393, April.
    7. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    8. Thomas Liebig & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2004. "Migration, Self-Selection and Income Inequality: An International Analysis," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(1), pages 125-146, February.
    9. Stark, Oded, 1990. "A Relative Deprivation Approach to Performance Incentives in Career Games and Other Contests," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 211-227.
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    Cited by:

    1. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier B. & Giulietti, Corrado & Robalino, Juan D. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2016. "Remittances and relative concerns in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 191-207.
    2. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    3. Michael A. Clemens, 2014. "Does development reduce migration?," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Migration and Economic Development, chapter 6, pages 152-185 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Czaika, Mathias, 2011. "Internal and international migration as response of double deprivation: some evidence from India," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 21, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    5. Oded Stark & Walter Hyll & Doris Behrens, 2010. "Gauging the potential for social unrest," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 143(1), pages 229-236, April.
    6. Otrachshenko, Vladimir & Popova, Olga, 2014. "Life (dis)satisfaction and the intention to migrate: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 40-49.
    7. Silvia Maja Melzer & Ruud J. Muffels, 2012. "Migrant's Pursuit of Happiness: The Impact of Adaption, Social Comparison and Relative Deprivation; Evidence from a 'Natural' Experiment," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 448, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    8. Michael Clemens, 2014. "Does Development Reduce Migration? - Working Paper 359," Working Papers 359, Center for Global Development.
    9. Stark, Oded & Micevska, Maja & Mycielski, Jerzy, 2009. "Relative poverty as a determinant of migration: Evidence from Poland," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 119-122, June.
    10. Armenak Antinyan & Luca Corazzini, 2016. "Relative Standing and Temporary Migration: Empirical Evidence from the South Caucasus," LIUC Papers in Economics 293, Cattaneo University (LIUC).
    11. Zubair, Muhammad & Bögenhold, Dieter, 2017. "Migration, Social Capital, Financial Capital: How Migrants’ Family Relations Serve Internationally," MPRA Paper 83116, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Zheren WU, 2008. "Relative Income Positions and Labor Migration: A Panel Study Based on a Rural Household Survey in China," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 08-24, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers


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