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Moving to Despair? Internal Migration and Well-Being in Pakistan


  • Kosec, K.
  • Chen, J.
  • Mueller, V.


Internal migration has the potential to substantially increase incomes, especially for the poor in developing countries, and yet migration rates remain low. We explore the role of mental health by evaluating the impacts of internal migration on a suite of well-being indicators using a unique longitudinal study in rural Pakistan which surveyed individuals in 1991 and again in 2013 14. We account for selection into migration using covariate matching. Those who migrated during this period have roughly 35 to 40 percent higher consumption per adult equivalent, yet they are 6 percentage points less likely to report being in excellent health, 5 to 7 percentage points more likely to report having been sick in the last four weeks, and 12 to 14 percentage points less likely to report feeling either happy or calm. Our results suggest that deteriorating physical health coupled with feelings of relative deprivation underlie the disparity between economic and mental well-being. Thus, despite substantial monetary gains from migration, people may be happier and less mentally distressed remaining at home. If traditional market mechanisms cannot reduce psychic costs, it may be more constructive to address regional inequality by shifting production rather than workers across space. Acknowledgement :

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  • Kosec, K. & Chen, J. & Mueller, V., 2018. "Moving to Despair? Internal Migration and Well-Being in Pakistan," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277313, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae18:277313
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.277313

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    Health Economics and Policy;

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