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The Effect of Geographical Mobility on Income

John B. Lansing and James N. Morgan
The Journal of Human Resources
Vol. 2, No. 4 (Autumn, 1967), pp. 449-460
DOI: 10.2307/144765
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/144765
Page Count: 12
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The Effect of Geographical Mobility on Income
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Abstract

When people move from one area to another they typically do so in order to raise their incomes. Economists would like to be able to estimate by how much migrants' incomes do in fact increase as a result of their mobility. Comparison of the incomes of migrants with nonmigrants in a cross section of the population, however, shows that the incomes of migrants tend to be lower, not higher, than those of nonmigrants. This paper reports an analysis of this apparent paradox using data collected by the Survey Research Center. The difference in incomes between migrants and nonmigrants is traced to the disadvantages of those who move to economically advantaged areas compared to people who always have lived in those areas. The proper comparison is between those who were brought up in poor areas but left, with otherwise similar people who stayed. Holding constant number of years of education is not sufficient to remove the differences in earnings between people of different geographic backgrounds. It is suggested that the reason may be that there are important differences from place to place in quality of education which are not removed by taking into account the number of years of schooling.

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