Home Sweet Home? Macroeconomic Conditions in Home Countries and the Well-Being of Migrants

39 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2014

See all articles by Alpaslan Akay

Alpaslan Akay

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Olivier Bargain

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University College Dublin (UCD)

Klaus F. Zimmermann

Global Labor Organization (GLO); UNU-MERIT; Maastricht University, Department of Economics; Free University Berlin; University of Bonn; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Journal of Population Economics

Abstract

This paper examines whether the subjective well-being of migrants is responsive to fluctuations in macroeconomic conditions in their country of origin. Using the German Socio-Economic Panel for the years 1984 to 2009 and macroeconomic variables for 24 countries of origin, we exploit country-year variation for identification of the effect and panel data to control for migrants' observed and unobserved characteristics.We find strong (mild) evidence that migrants' well-being responds negatively (positively) to an increase in the GDP (unemployment rate) of their home country. That is, we originally demonstrate that migrants regard home countries as natural comparators and, thereby, suggest an original assessment of the migration's relative deprivation motive. We also show that migrants are positively affected by the performances of the German regions in which they live (a 'signal effect'). We demonstrate that both effects decline with years-since-migration and with the degree of assimilation in Germany, which is consistent with a switch of migrants' reference point from home countries to migration destinations. Results are robust to the inclusion of country-time trends, to control for remittances sent to relatives in home countries and to a correction for selection into return migration. We derive important implications for labor market and migration policies.

Keywords: migrants, well-being, GDP, unemployment, relative concerns/deprivation

JEL Classification: C90, D63

Suggested Citation

Akay, Alpaslan and Bargain, Olivier and Zimmermann, Klaus F., Home Sweet Home? Macroeconomic Conditions in Home Countries and the Well-Being of Migrants. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7862, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2374643

Alpaslan Akay (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

Olivier Bargain

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Belfield, Dublin 4 4
Ireland
+353 1 716 8357 (Phone)
+353 1 283 0068 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ucd.ie/economics/staff/obargain/obargain.htm

Klaus F. Zimmermann

Global Labor Organization (GLO) ( email )

Bonn
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://https://glabor.org/

UNU-MERIT ( email )

Keizer Karelplein 19
Maastricht, 6211TC
Netherlands

Maastricht University, Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

University of Bonn

Postfach 2220
Bonn, D-53012
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Journal of Population Economics

Tiergartenstr. 17
D-69121 Heidelberg
Germany

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