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

Artjoms Ivlevs (), Milena Nikolova () and Carol Graham ()
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Artjoms Ivlevs: University of the West of England
Carol Graham: The Brookings Institution

Journal of Population Economics, 2019, vol. 32, issue 1, No 4, 113-151

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: Migration; Remittances; Depression; Stress; Cantril ladder of life; Happiness; Gallup World Poll (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F22 F24 I31 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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