Emigration and the subjective well-being of those staying behind: New research

New research forthcoming in the Journal of Population Economics finds: Having family members abroad is associated with greater well-being of those staying behind!

Milena Nikolova, Carol Graham, and Artjoms Ivlev:

Emigration, remittances, and the subjective well-being of those staying behind

The authors are: Artjoms Ivlevs ( University of the West of England), Milena Nikolova (University of Groningen) & Carol Graham (The Brookings Institution). Milena Nikolova & Carol Graham are also Fellows of the Global Labor Organization (GLO).

The paper is open access/freely downloadable and already pre-published online. It is forthcoming 2019 in the Journal of Population Economics.

A Brookings blog has just introduced and detailed the analysis and contribution of the paper: International migration: What happens to those left behind?

Full Abstract:
We offer the first global perspective on the well-being consequences of emigration for those staying behind using several subjective well-being measures (evaluations of best possible life, positive affect, stress, and depression). Using the Gallup World Poll data for 114 countries during 2009–2011, we find that having family members abroad is associated with greater evaluative well-being and positive affect, and receiving remittances is linked with further increases in evaluative well-being, especially in poorer contexts—both across and within countries. We also document that having household members abroad is linked with increased stress and depression, which are not offset by remittances. The out-migration of family members appears less traumatic in countries where migration is more common, indicating that people in such contexts might be able to cope better with separation. Overall, subjective well-being measures, which reflect both material and non-material aspects of life, furnish additional insights and a well-rounded picture of the consequences of emigration on migrant family members staying behind relative to standard outcomes employed in the literature, such as the left-behind’s consumption, income, or labor market outcomes.

Journal of Population Economics

GLO Fellow Milena Nikolova
Carol Graham
GLO Fellow Carol Graham


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