Migration, Relationship Capital and International Travel: Theory and Evidence

Posted: 27 Apr 2010

See all articles by Philip McCann

Philip McCann

University of Reading - Department of Economics

Jacques Poot

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Spatial Economics; University of Waikato - National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis; Motu Economic and Public Policy Research; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

In this article we consider how international migration is related to the frequency and duration of trips to the home country. For many migrants, international migration triggers a series of trips to visit the home country that allow for a replenishment of the depleted relationship capital with family and friends back home, but these trips incur travel costs and foregone earnings. Given plausible assumptions about the depreciation and replenishment of home country relationship capital, a steady-state level of average maintained relationship capital implies that the optimized travel frequency is inversely related to the distance and the transportation costs, and positively related to the psychological costs of separation. The total time spent at home is increasing in the trip frequency, but with an elasticity that is decreasing in cultural proximity. Empirical evidence in support of these theoretical predictions is found in a unique longitudinal sample of international travel of 13,674 New Zealand citizens and 6882 UK citizens who migrated to Australia between 1 August 1999 and 31 July 2000.

Keywords: International migration, trip frequency, relationship capital

JEL Classification: F22, J61, R23, Z13

Suggested Citation

McCann, Philip and Poot, Jacques, Migration, Relationship Capital and International Travel: Theory and Evidence. Journal of Economic Geography, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 361-387, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1596485 or http://dx.doi.org/lbp044

Philip McCann (Contact Author)

University of Reading - Department of Economics ( email )

Reading, RG6 6AA
United Kingdom
+44 (0)118 9314074 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rdg.ac.uk/IEAS/staff/McCann.htm

Jacques Poot

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Spatial Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
1081HV Amsterdam
Netherlands

University of Waikato - National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis ( email )

Te Raupapa
Private Bag 3105
Hamilton, 3240
New Zealand

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

Level 1, 93 Cuba Street
P.O. Box 24390
Wellington, 6142
New Zealand

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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