The Effect of Expected Income on Individual Migration Decisions
The paper develops a tractable econometric model of optimal migration, focusing on expected income as the main economic influence on migration. The model improves on previous work in two respects: it covers optimal sequences of location decisions (rather than a single once-for-all choice), and it allows for many alternative location choices. The model is estimated using panel data from the NLSY on white males with a high school education. Our main conclusion is that interstate migration decisions are influenced to a substantial extent by income prospects. The results suggest that the link between income and migration decisions is driven both by geographic differences in mean wages and by a tendency to move in search of a better locational match when the income realization in the current location is unfavorable.
Published: “The Effect of Expected Income on Individual Migration Decisions” (with James R. Walker), Econometrica 79 (1), January 2011, 211-251
This paper was revised on February 12, 2008