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Accounting for Selectivity and Duration-Dependent Heterogeneity When Estimating the Impact of Emigration on Incomes and Poverty in Sending Areas


  • John Gibson
  • David McKenzie
  • Steven Stillman


The impacts of international emigration and remittances on incomes and poverty in sending areas are increasingly studied with household survey data. But comparing households with and without emigrants is complicated by a triple-selectivity problem: first, households self-select into emigration; second, in some emigrant households everyone moves while others leave members behind; and third, some emigrants choose to return to the origin country. Allowing for duration-dependent heterogeneity introduces a fourth form of selectivity--we must now worry not just about whether households migrate, but also when they do so. This paper sets out these selectivity issues and their implications for existing migration studies and then addresses them by using survey data designed specifically to take advantage of a randomized lottery that determines which applicants to the oversubscribed Samoan Quota (SQ) may immigrate to New Zealand. We compare incomes and poverty rates among left-behind members in households in Samoa that sent SQ emigrants with those for members of similar households that were unsuccessful in the lottery. Policy rules control who can accompany the principal migrant, providing an instrument to address the second selectivity problem, while differences among migrants in which year their ballot was selected allow us to estimate duration effects. We find that migration reduced poverty among former household members but also find suggestive evidence that this effect may be short-lived as both remittances and agricultural income are negatively related to the duration that the migrant has been abroad.

Suggested Citation

  • John Gibson & David McKenzie & Steven Stillman, 2013. "Accounting for Selectivity and Duration-Dependent Heterogeneity When Estimating the Impact of Emigration on Incomes and Poverty in Sending Areas," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(2), pages 247-280.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/668276

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard Brown & Gareth Leeves, 2011. "Comparative effects of migrants' remittances on composition of recipient household income in two small, island economies," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(27), pages 3965-3976.
    2. Mckenzie, David & Rapoport, Hillel, 2007. "Network effects and the dynamics of migration and inequality: Theory and evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-24, September.
    3. Sebastian Gundel & Heiko Peters, 2008. "What determines the duration of stay of immigrants in Germany?: Evidence from a longitudinal duration analysis," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(11), pages 769-782, September.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2006.098418_3 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Lu, Yao, 2012. "Household migration, social support, and psychosocial health: The perspective from migrant-sending areas," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 135-142.
    2. David McKenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2011. "Can migration reduce educational attainment? Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(4), pages 1331-1358, October.
    3. Chakraborty, Tanika & Mirkasimov, Bakhrom & Steiner, Susan, 2015. "Transfer behavior in migrant sending communities," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 690-705.
    4. John Gibson & David McKenzie & Halahingano Rohorua, 2014. "Development Impacts of Seasonal and Temporary Migration: A Review of Evidence from the Pacific and Southeast Asia," Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 18-32, January.
    5. Gibson,John & Mckenzie,David J. & Rohorua,Halahingano & Stillman,Steven, 2015. "The long-term impacts of international migration : evidence from a lottery," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7495, The World Bank.
    6. David McKenzie & Dean Yang, 2012. "Experimental Approaches in Migration Studies," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research Methods in Migration, chapter 12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. David McKenzie & Caroline Theoharides & Dean Yang, 2014. "Distortions in the International Migrant Labor Market: Evidence from Filipino Migration and Wage Responses to Destination Country Economic Shocks," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 49-75, April.
    8. Aiko Kikkawa & Keijiro Otsuka, 2016. "The Changing Landscape of International Migration : Evidence from Rural Households in Bangladesh, 2000-2014," GRIPS Discussion Papers 16-13, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    9. Jackline Wahba, 2015. "Selection, selection, selection: the impact of return migration," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(3), pages 535-563, July.
    10. Gharad Bryan & Shyamal Chowdhury & Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, 2014. "Underinvestment in a Profitable Technology: The Case of Seasonal Migration in Bangladesh," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 1671-1748, September.
    11. Francisca M. Antman, 2013. "The impact of migration on family left behind," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 16, pages 293-308 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Baldwin, Kate & Bhavnani, Rikhil R., 2013. "Ancillary Experiments: Opportunities and Challenges," WIDER Working Paper Series 024, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    13. Elisabetta Lodigiani & Sara Salomone, 2012. "Migration-induced Transfers of Norms. The Case of Female Political Empowerment," DEGIT Conference Papers c017_058, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    14. Sylvie Démurger, 2015. "Migration and families left behind," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 144-144, April.
    15. John Gibson & David McKenzie & Bilal Zia, 2014. "The Impact of Financial Literacy Training for Migrants," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 130-161.
    16. David McKenzie, 2012. "Learning about migration through experiments," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1207, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    17. Kusunose, Yoko & Rignall, Karen, 2015. "Labor migration, poverty and the long-term development impact of international migration," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205558, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    18. Phan, Diep & Coxhead, Ian, 2016. "Rural-Urban Migration and Remittances in Vietnam Evidence from Migrant Tracer Data," Staff Paper Series 581, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    19. Bouoiyour, Jamal & Miftah, Amal, 2014. "Les transferts de fonds réduisent-ils la pauvreté et les inégalités de revenus? Une vérification empirique à travers une enquête dans le milieu rural marocain
      [Remittances, Poverty and Income Inequ
      ," MPRA Paper 57052, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Michael Clemens, Colum Graham, and Stephen Howes, 2014. "Skill Development and Regional Mobility: Lessons from the Australia-Pacific Technical College - Working Paper 370," Working Papers 370, Center for Global Development.
    21. Gharad Bryan & Shyamal Chowdhury & A. Mushfiq Mobarak, 2011. "Seasonal Migration and Risk Aversion," Working Papers id:4650, eSocialSciences.
    22. Mahé, Clothilde & Naudé, Wim, 2016. "Migration, occupation and education: Evidence from Ghana," MERIT Working Papers 018, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    23. Leisa Perch & Rathin Roy, 2010. "Social Policy in the Post-crisis Context of Small Island Developing States: a Synthesis," Working Papers 67, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    24. Joanna Clifton-Sprigg, 2014. "Out of sight, out of mind? Educational outcomes of children with parents working abroad," ESE Discussion Papers 251, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    25. Bouoiyour, Jamal & Miftah, Amal, 2014. "The effects of remittances on poverty and inequality: Evidence from rural southern Morocco," MPRA Paper 55686, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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