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The Development Impact of a Best Practice Seasonal Worker Policy


  • John Gibson

    (University of Waikato)

  • David McKenzie

    (World Bank, BREAD, CEPR, CReAM and IZA)


Seasonal migration programs are widely used around the world, yet there is little evidence as to their development impacts. A multiyear prospective evaluation of New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) seasonal worker program allows us to measure the impact of participating in this program on households in Tonga and Vanuatu. Using a propensity-score prescreened difference-in-differences analysis based on surveys fielded before, during, and after participation, we find that the RSE has indeed had positive development impacts that dwarf those of other popular development interventions. It has increased income, consumption, and savings of households; durable goods ownership; and subjective standard of living. The results also suggest that child schooling improved in Tonga. © 2014 The World Bank

Suggested Citation

  • John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2014. "The Development Impact of a Best Practice Seasonal Worker Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 229-243, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:96:y:2014:i:2:p:229-243

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard K. Crump & V. Joseph Hotz & Guido W. Imbens & Oscar A. Mitnik, 2009. "Dealing with limited overlap in estimation of average treatment effects," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 96(1), pages 187-199.
    2. David McKenzie & Pilar Garcia Martinez & L. Alan Winters, 2008. "Who is coming from Vanuatu to New Zealand under the new Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Program?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0806, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    3. Michael Clemens & Claudio Montenegro & Lant Pritchett, 2008. "The Place Premium: Wage Differences for Identical Workers across the U.S. Border," Working Papers 148, Center for Global Development.
    4. Martin RUHS, 2006. "The potential of temporary migration programmes in future international migration policy," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 145(1-2), pages 7-36, March.
    5. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597.
    6. Dehejia, Rajeev, 2005. "Practical propensity score matching: a reply to Smith and Todd," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 355-364.
    7. David McKenzie & John Gibson & Steven Stillman, 2010. "How Important Is Selection? Experimental vs. Non-Experimental Measures of the Income Gains from Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 913-945, June.
    8. David S. Lee, 2009. "Training, Wages, and Sample Selection: Estimating Sharp Bounds on Treatment Effects," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1071-1102.
    9. Macours, Karen & Vakis, Renos, 2010. "Seasonal Migration and Early Childhood Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 857-869, June.
    10. L. Alan Winters & Terrie L. Walmsley & Zhen Kun Wang & Roman Grynberg, 2003. "Liberalising Temporary Movement of Natural Persons: An Agenda for the Development Round," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(8), pages 1137-1161, August.
    11. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2001. "Identifying Welfare Effects from Subjective Questions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(271), pages 335-357, August.
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    More about this item


    seasonal migration; matched difference-in-differences;

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration


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