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Direct Evidence in Risk Attitudes and Migration

  • Jaeger David A.
  • Dohmen Thomas
  • Falk Armin
  • Huffman David
  • Sunde Uwe
  • Bonin Holger

    (ROA rm)

It has long been hypothesized that individuals'' migration propensities depend on their attitudes towards risk, but the empirical evidence, to the extent that it exists, has been indirect. In this paper, we use newly available data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to measure directly the relationship between migration propensities and attitudes towards risk. We find that individuals who are more willing to take risks are more likely to migrate between labor markets in Germany. This result is robust to stratifying by age, sex, education, national origin, and a variety of other demographic characteristics. The effect is substantial relative to the unconditional migration propensity and compared to the conventional determinants of migration. We find no evidence that these findings are the result of reverse causality.

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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) in its series ROA Research Memorandum with number 011.

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Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unm:umaror:2008011
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  1. Daveri, Francesco & Faini, Riccardo, 1999. "Where Do Migrants Go?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(4), pages 595-622, October.
  2. Axel Heitmueller, 2002. "Unemployment Benefits, Risk Aversion, and Migration Incentives," CERT Discussion Papers 0207, Centre for Economic Reform and Transformation, Heriot Watt University.
  3. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2008. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," CEPR Discussion Papers 6844, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Jaeger, David A. & Bonin, Holger & Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Direct Evidence on Risk Attitudes and Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 2655, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Juergen Schupp & Gert Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Working Papers 2096, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Stark, Oded & Levhari, David, 1982. "On Migration and Risk in LDCs," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 191-96, October.
  7. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  8. George J. Borjas, 2001. "Does Immigration Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 69-134.
  9. Katz, Eliakim & Stark, Oded, 1986. "Labor Migration and Risk Aversion in Less Developed Countries," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 134-49, January.
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