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Relative deprivation and migration : theory, evidence, and policy implications

By Oded Stark and J. Edward Taylor

Abstract

The authors examine the importance of absolute income and relative deprivation incentives for internal and international migration in developing country households. Empirical results, based on Mexican village data, support the hypothesis that households'relative deprivation in the village reference group is significant in explaining migration by household members to destinations where a reference group substitution is unlikely and the returns to migrations are high. Independent of relative deprivation, village households wisely pair their members with the labor markets in which the returns to their human capital are likely to be greatest. The results suggest that a specific type of migration constitutes a response to a specific configuration of variables, and the role of relative deprivation appears to differ for internal and international migration. Taking relative deprivation into account when studying migration is shown to have important implications for development policy. For example, economic development that does not redress intravillage income inequalities may become associated with more migration.Drylands&Desertification,Inequality,Anthropology,Banks&Banking Reform,Environmental Economics&Policies

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