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Psychological Costs of Migration: Home Country Natural Disasters and Mental Health

P. Bharadwaj, D. Doiron, Denzil Fiebig and Agne Suziedelyte ()

Working Papers from Department of Economics, City University London

Abstract: The psychological toll of leaving one's familiar environment is a dominant explanation for why some people do not migrate despite relatively high wage differentials and low monetary costs of moving. Yet there is little direct empirical evidence on the existence and the characteristics of psychic costs. Using linked administrative and survey data (the 45 and Up Study) from Australia, a country where one in four residents was born overseas, we show that migrant mental health is significantly affected by home country natural disasters. In the three months following a disaster, mental health related drug use and visits to mental health specialists increase by 5% and 33%, respectively. The effects persist for up to 12 months after the initial shock and increase with distance to the home country. In contrast, we do not find any effects of home country disasters on the physical health conditions of migrants. Given that individuals in our sample have lived in their destination country for an average of 40 years, our estimates suggest strong persistence in these costs.

Keywords: psychic costs of migration; natural disasters; mental health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-01
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