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The Welfare Effects of Encouraging Rural-Urban Migration

Author

Listed:
  • David Lagakos

    () (University of California, San Diego)

  • Mushfiq Mobarak

    (Yale University)

  • Michael Waugh

    (New York University)

Abstract

This paper studies the welfare effects of encouraging rural-urban migration in the developing world. To do so, we build a dynamic incomplete-markets model of migration in which heterogeneous agents face seasonal income fluctuations, stochastic income shocks, and disutility of migration that depends on past migration experience. We calibrate the model to replicate a field experiment that subsidized migration in rural Bangladesh, leading to significant increases in both migration rates and consumption for induced migrants. The model’s welfare predictions for migration subsidies are driven by two main features of the model and data: first, induced migrants tend to be negatively selected on income and assets; second, the model’s non-monetary disutility of migration is substantial, which we validate using newly collected survey data from this same experimental sample. The average welfare gains are similar in magnitude to those obtained from an unconditional cash transfer, and greater than from policies that discourage migration, though migration subsidies lead to larger gains for the poorest households, which have the greatest propensity to migrate.

Suggested Citation

  • David Lagakos & Mushfiq Mobarak & Michael Waugh, 2018. "The Welfare Effects of Encouraging Rural-Urban Migration," Working Papers 2018-002, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2018-002
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    File URL: http://humcap.uchicago.edu/RePEc/hka/wpaper/Lagakos_Mobarak_Waugh_2018_welfare-rural-urban.pdf
    File Function: First version, December, 2017
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Imbert, Clément, 2016. "Short-term Migration Rural Workfare Programs and Urban Labor Markets - Evidence from India," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1116, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    2. Restuccia, Diego & Yang, Dennis Tao & Zhu, Xiaodong, 2008. "Agriculture and aggregate productivity: A quantitative cross-country analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 234-250, March.
    3. Emily Lancsar & Jordan Louviere, 2008. "Conducting Discrete Choice Experiments to Inform Healthcare Decision Making," PharmacoEconomics, Springer, vol. 26(8), pages 661-677, August.
    4. Joel M. David & Hugo A. Hopenhayn & Venky Venkateswaran, 2016. "Information, Misallocation, and Aggregate Productivity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(2), pages 943-1005.
    5. Clément Imbert & John Papp, 2015. "Labor Market Effects of Social Programs: Evidence from India's Employment Guarantee," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 233-263, April.
    6. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    rural-urban migration;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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