NOVAFRICA Publication: “Testing classic theories of migration in the lab” now out in the Journal of International Economics!

The paper “Testing classic theories of migration in the lab” by Catia Batista, NOVAFRICA scientific director, and David McKenzie, from the World Bank, is now published in the Journal of International Economics.

The paper uses incentivized lab experiments to test migration theories.

Experimental subjects are final year university students based in Kenya and Portugal who make incentivized migration choices.

Results show :

    • Risk and incomplete information lower migration rates and make migrant selection less negative.
    • The independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA) assumption fails more often under risk and incomplete information.
    • Nairobi respondents are more likely to minimize costs instead of maximizing income when making migration decisions.
    • There is a home bias when the same wage is paid at home and destination.
    • Lab behavior predicts real life migration.

The results show the need to move beyond classic theories of migration to explain migration patterns across the world.

You can read the full paper here.