Moving to Jobs: The Role of Information in Migration Decisions

76 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2017 Last revised: 26 Dec 2017

Date Written: November 14, 2017


Migration is a human capital investment that allows individuals to encounter more favorable labor markets. This paper exploits county-level variation in exposure to news about labor markets impacted by fracking, to show that access to information about potential labor market opportunities affects migration. I use pre-fracking newspaper circulation rates and content from national news outlets to capture exogenous variation in exposure to news about fracking in a particular destination. I then isolate the effect of news exposure by comparing migration flows to the same destination from differentially exposed origin counties. Exposure to newspaper articles about fracking increased migration to the areas mentioned in the news by 2.4 percent on average. News exposure also increases commuting to fracking counties. Exposure to TV news has a similar impact, and positive news about fracking increases migration more than negative news. As further evidence that news matters, Google searches for the term fracking and the names of states specifically mentioned spike after TV news broadcasts about fracking. Migration responses to news about fracking are largest from counties experiencing weak labor markets, suggesting these areas see the largest benefits to information provision.

Keywords: geographic mobility, migration, information, news, fracking

JEL Classification: J61, D83, R23, Q33

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Riley, Moving to Jobs: The Role of Information in Migration Decisions (November 14, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Riley Wilson (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

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