Pushed by Poverty or by Institutions? Determinants of Global Migration Flows

25 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2015 Last revised: 14 Nov 2015

See all articles by Andreas Bergh

Andreas Bergh

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Lund University - Department of Economics

Irina Mirkina

Lund University - Department of Economics

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Lund University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 10, 2015

Abstract

The existing literature on determinants of migration flows typically claims that income differences across countries should be a pushing factor for people's movement. We suggest that institutional quality is a better proxy for the factors that trigger migration. People may well want to stay in or move to relatively poor countries if institutions are good, partly because good institutions have an intrinsic value for people and partly because good institutions may be a sign of future economic growth. In contrast, low income and absolute poverty work both as push-factors and as credit constraints, so that people may want to leave, but few can afford to migrate when poverty is high. We test our hypotheses using new data on bilateral migration flows from Abel and Sander (2014), the Worldwide Governance Indicators and the World Bank data on headcount poverty, using a migration gravity model with a spatial specification. Controlling for both source and destination income levels, we find that institutional quality matters significantly for migration. Poor institutions act as a push factor, while absolute poverty in a country of origin limits migration. We also find that omitting spatial factors biases the effect of institutions upwards.

Keywords: global migration, institutions, poverty, gravity model, spatial analysis

JEL Classification: F1, F22, P48

Suggested Citation

Bergh, Andreas and Mirkina, Irina and Nilsson, Therese, Pushed by Poverty or by Institutions? Determinants of Global Migration Flows (August 10, 2015). IFN Working Paper No. 1077, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2649889

Andreas Bergh

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden
0707790734 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifn.se/web/AndreasB

Lund University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7082
S-220 07
Lund
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.nek.lu.se/

Irina Mirkina (Contact Author)

Lund University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7082
S-220 07 Lund
Sweden

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Lund University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7082
S-220 07 Lund
Sweden
+46 46 222 46 43 (Phone)

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