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Migration, relationship capital and international travel: theory and evidence

  • Philip McCann
  • Jacques Poot
  • Lynda Sanderson

In this paper we consider how international migration is related to the frequency and duration of trips to the home country. For many migrants, international migration triggers a series of trips to visit the home country that allow for a replenishment of the depleted relationship capital with family and friends back home, but these trips incur travel costs and foregone earnings. Given plausible assumptions about the depreciation and replenishment of home country relationship capital, a steady-state level of average maintained relationship capital implies that the optimized travel frequency is inversely related to the distance and the transportation costs, and positively related to the psychological costs of separation. The total time spent at home is increasing in the trip frequency, but with an elasticity that is decreasing in cultural proximity. Empirical evidence in support of these theoretical predictions is found in a unique longitudinal sample of international travel of 13,674 New Zealand citizens and 6,882 UK citizens who migrated to Australia between 1 August 1999 and 31 July 2000.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jeg/lbp044
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Journal of Economic Geography.

Volume (Year): 10 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 361-387

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jecgeo:v:10:y:2010:i:3:p:361-387
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  1. Philip McCann & Charles Ward, 2004. "Real Estate Rental Payments: Application of Stock-Inventory Modeling," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 28(2_3), pages 273-292, 03.
  2. Constant, Amelie F. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2007. "Circular Migration: Counts of Exits and Years Away from the Host Country," IZA Discussion Papers 2999, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Janet E. Kohlhase, 2003. "Cities, Regions and the Decline of Transport Costs," NBER Working Papers 9886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Augustin De Coulon & François-Charles Wolff, 2005. "Immigrants at retirement: stay/return or 'va-et-vient'?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19890, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Dustmann, Christian, 2003. "Return migration, wage differentials, and the optimal migration duration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 353-369, April.
  6. McCann, Philip, 2001. "A proof of the relationship between optimal vehicle size, haulage length and the structure of distance-transport costs," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 671-693, September.
  7. Oded Shenkar, 2001. "Cultural Distance Revisited: Towards a More Rigorous Conceptualization and Measurement of Cultural Differences," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 32(3), pages 519-535, September.
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