Thursday, April 13, 2006

Emigration: the private vs. the public domain

What motivates people to emigrate from high-income countries from an extensive welfare. The answers are actually a lot harder to find then for immigrants from low-income countries. This Tinbergen discussion paper "When the quality of a nation triggers emigration" offers some insights by comparing motivations of potential emigrants in the private domain (e.a income situation) with the public domain (or the perception of it) in the current situation of the Netherlands. How the public domain is "perceived" can be a far more significant factor than for example a negative factor like a potential fall in income when emigrating to another country.

I wonder how this would compare with countries like Denmark or Germany. Too bad they didn´t include a list of the countries most people favour (Australia? Scandinavia? Belgium? etc..). It would have been interesting to compare emigrant conceptions with the actual situation on the ground. Also, what would happen if instead of a perception change the public domain was really negatively affected for some reason (significant cuts in the welfare state, taxes, insecurity etc..)?

To understand emigration from high-income countries we focus not only on factors that refer to individual characteristics, but also on the perception of the quality of the public domain, which involves institutions (social security, educational system, law and order) as well as the ‘public goods’ these institutions produce: social protection, safety, environmental quality, education, etc. Based on data about the emigration intentions of the Dutch population collected during the years 2004-2005 we conclude that besides traditional characteristics of potential emigrants – young, single, male, having a network in the country of destination, higher educated, seeking new sensations - modern-day emigrants are motivated not so much by private circumstances but by a longing for a better public domain. In particular, emigrants are in search of a better quality of life as approximated by the presence of nature, space, silence, and a less populated country. To gauge the effect of the quality of the public domain, a counterfactual scenario is offered, which suggests that a perception of severe neglect of the public domain substantially increases the pressure to emigrate. Under this scenario, approximately 20 percent of the Dutch
population would express an intention to emigrate.


Anonymous said...

Some single American men move to countries like Thailand and Costa Rica after taking early retirement because, well, those countries have plenty of young women who will overlook a man's age if he has American money ...

Iron Rails & Iron Weights

Guy said...

Very interesting. I know many Brits used to come to Brittany (the tide recently stemmed) because they were looking for a better public domain.

Likewise many people from the UK and the Lowlands move to Spain for the better climate (mainly elderly people). The Netherlands and Belgium have known emigration for a long time and it is interesting to see how they, in turn, are dealing with immigration.

French young people are leaving for countries like the US in search of a better employment future. But not all of them, many French people seem to be wary of moving abroad.

I think it will be extremely hard to map the diverse motivations. Opportunity is a big factor, too, I think (job offers, etc.)

Looking forward to reading more about this.