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Does relative deprivation induce migration? Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Winters, P.
  • Kafle, K.
  • Benfica, R.


This paper revisits the decades-old relative deprivation theory of migration. In contrast to the traditional view which portrays absolute income maximization as a driver of migration, we test whether relative deprivation induces migration in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. Taking advantage of the internationally comparable longitudinal data from integrated household and agriculture surveys from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda, we use panel fixed effects to estimate the effects of relative deprivation on migration. We find that a household s migration decision is based not only on its wellbeing status but also on the relative position of the household in the wellbeing distribution of the local community. Results are robust to alternative specifications including pooled data across the five countries and the migration relative deprivation relationship is amplified in rural, agricultural, and male-headed households. Results imply a need to renew the discussion of relative deprivation as a cause of migration. Acknowledgement :

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  • Winters, P. & Kafle, K. & Benfica, R., 2018. "Does relative deprivation induce migration? Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 276981, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae18:276981

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    1. Stark, Oded, 1984. "Rural-to-Urban Migration in LDCs: A Relative Deprivation Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 475-486, April.
    2. Nguyen, Loc Duc & Raabe, Katharina & Grote, Ulrike, 2015. "Rural–Urban Migration, Household Vulnerability, and Welfare in Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 79-93.
    3. 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.
    4. repec:ags:eeaeje:259503 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. David E. Sahn & David Stifel, 2003. "Exploring Alternative Measures of Welfare in the Absence of Expenditure Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 49(4), pages 463-489, December.
    6. Alkire, Sabina & Foster, James, 2011. "Counting and multidimensional poverty measurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 476-487, August.
    7. Oded Stark & J. Taylor, 1989. "Relative deprivation and international migration oded stark," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(1), pages 1-14, February.
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