Mendola, M. JDE 2008
Migration and technological change in rural households: Complements or substitutes?
In this paper we study the interrelationship between determinants of migration, conceived as a family strategy, and the potential impact of having a migrant household member on the people left behind. Labour migration is often related to poverty but, given its lumpy-investment nature, lack of resources may constitute both a motivation and a hurdle to migrate. We use a cross-sectional household survey from rural Bangladesh to test whether migration is a diversification strategy that enables sending households to uptake high-yielding seed technology. We account for heterogeneity of migration constraints by differentiating between temporary-domestic, permanent-domestic and international movement. We find that households able to engage in costly high-return migration (i.e. international migration) are more likely to employ modern farming technology, thereby achieving higher productivity. Poorer households, on the other hand, are unable to overcome the entry costs of cross-border movement and fall back on low net-return (i.e. domestic) migration, which does not drive production enhancements and may act as a poverty-trap.