Returns to Low-Skilled International Migration: Evidence from the Bangladesh-Malaysia Migration Lottery Program

63 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2020 Last revised: 4 Mar 2020

See all articles by Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Yale School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Iffath Sharif

World Bank

Maheshwor Shrestha

World Bank

Date Written: February 27, 2020

Abstract

Many economists believe that the returns to migration are high. However, credible experimental estimates of the benefits of migration are rare, particularly for low-skilled international migrants and their families. This paper studies a natural experiment in Bangladesh, where low-skilled male migrant workers to Malaysia were selected via a large-scale lottery program. This study tracked the households of lottery applicants and surveyed 3,512 lottery winners and losers. Five years after the lottery, 76 percent of the winners had migrated internationally compared with only 19 percent of the lottery losers. Using the lottery outcome as an instrument, the paper finds that the government intermediated migration increased the incomes of migrants by over 200 percent and their household per capita consumption by 22 percent. Furthermore, low-skilled international migration leads to large improvements in a wide array of household socioeconomic outcomes, including female involvement in key household decisions. Such large gains arise, at least in part, due to lower costs of government intermediation.

Keywords: Educational Sciences, Inequality, Labor Markets, Employment and Unemployment

Suggested Citation

Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq and Sharif, Iffath and Shrestha, Maheshwor, Returns to Low-Skilled International Migration: Evidence from the Bangladesh-Malaysia Migration Lottery Program (February 27, 2020). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 9165, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3545658

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-5787 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://mba.yale.edu/faculty/profiles/mobarak.shtml

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Iffath Sharif

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Maheshwor Shrestha

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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