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Escaping Famine through Seasonal Migration

Author

Listed:
  • Gharad Bryan

    () (London School of Economics)

  • Shyamal Chowdhury

    () (University of Sydney)

  • Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

    () (School of Management, Yale University)

Abstract

Hunger during pre-harvest lean seasons is widespread in the agrarian areas of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. We randomly assign an $8.50 incentive to households in rural Bangladesh to out-migrate during the lean season. The incentive induces 22% of households to send a seasonal migrant, their consumption at the origin increases significantly, and treated households are 8-10 percentage points more likely to re-migrate 1 and 3 years after the incentive is removed. These facts can be explained qualitatively by a model in which migration is risky, mitigating risk requires individual-specific learning, and some migrants are sufficiently close to subsistence such that failed migration is very costly. We document evidence consistent with this model using heterogeneity analysis and additional experimental variation, but calibrations with forward-looking households that can save up to migrate suggest that it is difficult for the model to quantitatively match the data. We conclude with extensions to the model that could provide a better quantitative accounting of the behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Gharad Bryan & Shyamal Chowdhury & Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, 2013. "Escaping Famine through Seasonal Migration," Working Papers 1032, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:1032
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    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp1031.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Measuring microenterprise profits: Must we ask how the sausage is made?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 19-31, January.
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    6. Mellow, Wesley & Sider, Hal, 1983. "Accuracy of Response in Labor Market Surveys: Evidence and Implications," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 331-344, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Douglas Gollin & David Lagakos & Michael E. Waugh, 2014. "The Agricultural Productivity Gap," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 939-993.
    2. World Bank, 2014. "More Jobs, Better Jobs : A Priority for Egypt," World Bank Other Operational Studies 20584, The World Bank.
    3. Lee, Yu Na, 2015. "Effect of Price Risk on Migration: Evidence from Ethiopian Rural Households," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205812, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Seasonal Migration; Bangladesh; Risk;

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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