Dual-Earner Migration Decisions, Earnings, and Unemployment Insurance
No 1052, Boston College Working Papers in Economics from Boston College Department of Economics
Dual-earner couples’ decisions of where to live and work often result in one spouse – the trailing spouse – experiencing earnings losses at the time of a move. This paper examines how married couples’ migration decisions differentially impact men’s and women’s earnings and the role that policy can play in improving post-move outcomes for trailing spouses. I use panel data from the NLSY97 and a generalized difference- in-differences design to show that access to unemployment insurance (UI) for trailing spouses increases long-distance migration rates by 1.9–2.3 percentage points (38–46%) for married couples. I find that women are the primary beneficiaries of this policy, with higher UI uptake following a move and higher annual earnings of $4,500–$12,000 three years post-move. I then build and estimate a structural model of dual-earner couples’ migration decisions to evaluate the effects of a series of counterfactual policies. I show that increasing the likelihood of joint distant offers substantively increases migration rates, increases women’s post-move employment rates, and improves both men and women’s earnings growth at the time of a move. However, unconditional subsidies for migration that are not linked to having an offer in hand at the time of the move reduce post-move earnings for both men and women, with stronger effects for women.
Keywords: unemployment insurance; migration; economic geography; household behavior and family economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D1 J1 J16 J61 J65 R5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-geo, nep-lab, nep-mig and nep-ure
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