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Migration Costs and Observational Returns to Migration in the Developing World

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Listed:
  • David Lagakos
  • Samuel Marshall
  • Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak
  • Corey Vernot
  • Michael E. Waugh

Abstract

Recent studies find that observational returns to rural-urban migration are near zero in three developing countries. We revisit this result using panel tracking surveys from six countries, finding higher returns on average. We then interpret these returns in a multi-region Roy model with heterogeneity in migration costs. In the model, the observational return to migration confounds the urban premium and the individual benefits of migrants, and is not directly informative about the welfare gain from lowering migration costs. Patterns of regional heterogeneity in returns, and a comparison of experimental to observational returns, are consistent with the model’s predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • David Lagakos & Samuel Marshall & Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak & Corey Vernot & Michael E. Waugh, 2020. "Migration Costs and Observational Returns to Migration in the Developing World," NBER Working Papers 26868, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26868
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    4. Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq & Sharif, Iffath & Shrestha, Maheshwor, 2021. "Returns to International Migration: Evidence from a Bangladesh-Malaysia Visa Lottery," IZA Discussion Papers 14232, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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