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Evaluation of "Effects of Emigration on Rural Labor Markets"

Evaluation of "Effects of Emigration on Rural Labor Markets" for The Unjournal.

Published onJun 26, 2024
Evaluation of "Effects of Emigration on Rural Labor Markets"
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key-enterThis Pub is a Review of
Effects of Emigration on Rural Labor Markets
Effects of Emigration on Rural Labor Markets

Rural to urban migration is an integral part of the development process, but there is little evidence on how out-migration transforms rural labor markets. Emigration could benefit landless village residents by reducing labor competition, or conversely, reduce productivity if skilled workers leave. We offer to subsidize transport costs for 5792 potential seasonal migrants in Bangladesh, randomly varying saturation of offers across 133 villages. The transport subsidies increase beneficiaries’ income due to better employment opportunities in the city, and also generate the following spillovers: (a) A higher density of offers increases the individual take-up rate, and induces those connected to offered recipients to also migrate. The village emigration rate increases from 35% to 65%. (b) This increases the male agricultural wage rate in the village by 4.5-6.6%, and the available work hours in the village by 11-14%, which combine to increase income earned in the village, (c) There is no intra-household substitution in labor supply, but primary workers within households earn more during weeks in which many of their village co-residents moved away. (d) The wage bill for agricultural employers increases, which reduces their profit, with no significant change in yield. (e) Food prices increase by 2.7% on net, driven by an increase in the price of (fish) protein, and offset by (f) a decrease in the price of non-tradables like prepared food and tea. Seasonal migration subsidies not only generate large direct benefits, but also indirect spillover benefits by creating slack in the village-of-origin labor market during the lean season.

Abstract 1

The paper sought to examine the effects of emigration on rural labour markets, specifically, how outmigration transforms rural labour markets [using an experiment involving a transport subsidy intervention]. Using a sample of 5,792 potential seasonal migrants across 133 villages, the authors observed that transport subsidies increased beneficiaries’ income [and this] generated spillover effects. The research findings indicate that the transport subsidies increase beneficiaries’ income due to better employment opportunities and also generated some spillovers. [These included] increasing individual take-up rate as a result of a higher density offers which induces those connected to the offered recipients to also migrate, the village emigration rate increases, increase in the male agriculture wage rate in the village increasing income earned in the village. […]There is a decrease in the price of non-tradeables such as prepared food and tea while net food prices increase. The paper contributes immensely to the research on migration and labour studies. It also provides practical insights on intervention and adds useful value to research on interventions and has policy implications. The immense contribution is attributed to policy implications of the effects of subsidies on intervention and how the impact positively on such interventions. The practical insight is demonstrated by how recipients receive such interventions when they are directly involved and whatever benefits such as the subsidies go to them directly to achieve the desired results.

Summary Measures

We asked evaluators to give some overall assessments, in addition to ratings across a range of criteria. See the evaluation summary “metrics” for a more detailed breakdown of this. See these ratings in the context of all Unjournal ratings, with some analysis, in our data presentation here.2


90% Credible Interval

Overall assessment


50 - 78

Journal rank tier, normative rating


1.0 - 3.0

Overall assessment: We asked evaluators to rank this paper “heuristically” as a percentile “relative to all serious research in the same area that you have encountered in the last three years.” We requested they “consider all aspects of quality, credibility, importance to knowledge production, and importance to practice.”

Journal rank tier, normative rating (0-5): “On a ‘scale of journals’, what ‘quality of journal’ should this be published in? (See ranking tiers discussed here)” Note: 0= lowest/none, 5= highest/best”.

See here for the full evaluator guidelines, including further explanation of the requested ratings.

Written report


Whilst the topic is clearly explained, authors may consider replacing the word “effects” with “impact:. An impact is an effect, but not all effects are impacts. Since authors cannot measure all effects and therefore models often developed tend to be parsimonious, using “impact” may be more appropriate in my opinion. Again, the authors, in their summary of income, wage and labour supply used “effects” 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5, and as I have indicated above that an impact is an effect I will advise accordingly.

The authors did a good job of motivating the problem statement and the objectives in the introduction which are reasonable and able to meet the objectives set based on the data available.


Whilst the [literature] review was broad, it lacked comprehensiveness. [It included] a lot of review of empirical studies, however, the theoretical framework was not adequate. I expected, for example, that the Harris-Todaro theory and model on rural migration [would be] adequately reviewed, not just in passing.

Methodology and Data

The [theoretical] models were clear and formalize the argument given by the author as in the statement of the problem while they relate well with the objectives set. However, the models do not incorporate clearly all the aspects of reality which are very important to our audience.

Though treatment effects modelling was incorporated, a decomposition and counterfactual model should [also] have been incorporated. The Generalized Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition or the Fairlie decomposition (in the case the outcome variable is discrete) is recommended to deal with this shortfall. Again, variables that cover individual characteristics should have been incorporated in the model. It must be emphasized that the decision for a labor[er] to migrate may not necessarily [only] be influenced by transport subsidy but [also by] other factors including one’s gender, sex, marital status, education, age, etc.3

[On the Oaxaca or Fairlie decomposition…] measures the emigration gap between subsidy beneficiaries and those without subsidies. It will also indicate the extent to which the gap is influenced by the subsidy (unexplained factors) differences in endowments (characteristics) among the two of which the absolute values of the explained (characteristics) and unexplained (in this case, the subsidy) will determine which largely influences the emigration decision.

Analysis and discussion of results

The model being estimated is clear and relates with the objectives. Though the author found no usefulness in determining whether the migration experience of those travelling from a high intensity village is more successful than those from a low intensity village between migrants and non-migrants, this could have been observed with migrants alone.

[Clarification] On page 20, authors indicate “ITT estimates report average effects combining migrants and non-migrants, and are therefore not useful for determining whether the migration experience of those traveling from high density villages is more successful than that of migrants from low density villages.” Though this is not part of the objectives such analysis could have been observed with migrants alone.

The author also could have examined differences in individual endowments among the migrants and non migrants as the willingness to migrate may be determined by individual characteristics and not the transport subsidy alone. Again, comparison between those who are offered subsidies and those who were not should have included decomposition and counterfactual analysis as well as measuring the wage gap among them to critically examine the push factors apart from using the transport subsidy as a sole factor.

… what if other factors, other than the subsidies, or including the subsidies could be the driving force of emigration?

Evaluator details

  1. How long have you been in this field?

    • 14 years

  2. How many proposals and papers have you evaluated?

    • 40

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