Does Internal Migration Improve Overall Well-Being in Ethiopia?

Alan de Brauw, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Valerie Mueller, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Tassew Woldehanna, Addis Ababa University

Standard economic models suggest that individuals participate in migration to improve their well-being, whether those decisions are made at the individual or the household level. However, explicit and implicit barriers to movement both within and between countries can hinder migration, potentially affecting welfare improvement. In this paper, we use a unique panel dataset of tracked migrants and non-migrants that originate from 18 villages in Ethiopia to examine the welfare impacts of internal migration. Using a number of techniques and various objective and subjective measures, we measure the impacts of migration on the welfare of migrants versus non-migrants. We find large gains to objective welfare measures such as consumption, of more than 284 percent. However, relative to household heads subjective welfare measures are similar for migrants. The large welfare gains to migration suggest that barriers exist against the free movement of people to places where they would be objectively better off.

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Presented in Session 90: Internal Migration, Emigration, and Social and Economic Change