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The Effect of Childhood Migration on Human Capital Accumulation: Evidence from Rural-Urban Migrants in Indonesia


  • Budy Resosudarmo
  • Daniel Suryadarma


Developing countries are experiencing unprecedented levels of urbanization. Although most of these movements are motivated by economic reasons, they could affect the human capital accumulation of the children who follow their parents to the cities. This paper estimates the causal effect of permanently migrating as a child from a rural area to an urban area on human capital outcomes. To our knowledge, this paper is one of only several papers, especially in the context of a developing country, which is able to estimate the causal effect of migration. We utilize a recent survey of urban-rural migrants in Indonesia and merge it with a nationally representative survey to create a dataset that contains migrants in urban areas and non-migrants in rural areas who were born in the same rural districts. We then employ a measure of district-level propensity to migrate, calculated from the Indonesian intercensal survey, as an instrument. We find that childhood migration to urban areas increase education attainment by about 4.5 years by the time these individuals are adults. In addition, the childhood migrants face a lower probability to be underweight by about 15 percentage points as adults. However, we find no statistically significant effect on height, which is a measure of long-term nutritional intake, and we only find a weak effect on the probability to be obese. Therefore, our results suggest a permanent, positive, and large effect of childhood migration on education attainment and some health measures. In addition, our results can rule out any negative effect on health.

Suggested Citation

  • Budy Resosudarmo & Daniel Suryadarma, 2011. "The Effect of Childhood Migration on Human Capital Accumulation: Evidence from Rural-Urban Migrants in Indonesia," Departmental Working Papers 2011-02, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:pas:papers:2011-02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ira N. Gang & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2000. "Is Child like Parent? Educational Attainment and Ethnic Origin," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 550-569.
    2. David McKenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2011. "Can migration reduce educational attainment? Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(4), pages 1331-1358, October.
    3. David McKenzie & John Gibson & Steven Stillman, 2010. "How Important Is Selection? Experimental vs. Non-Experimental Measures of the Income Gains from Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 913-945, June.
    4. Stiefel, Leanna & Schwartz, Amy Ellen & Conger, Dylan, 2010. "Age of entry and the high school performance of immigrant youth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 303-314, May.
    5. Steven Stillman & John Gibson & David Mckenzie, 2012. "The Impact Of Immigration On Child Health: Experimental Evidence From A Migration Lottery Program," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(1), pages 62-81, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2013. "Indonesia : Urban Poverty and Program Review," World Bank Other Operational Studies 16301, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    migration; education; health;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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