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Influences of Material Aspirations on Migration

Publication Abstract

Thornton, Arland, Nathalie E. Williams, Prem Bhandari, Linda Young-DeMarco, Cathy Sun, Jeffrey Swindle, Christina Hughes, and Yu Xie. 2019. “Influences of Material Aspirations on Migration.” Demography 56(1):75-102.

In this article, we investigate the influences of material aspirations on migration in Nepal, positing that material aspirations may have important influences on decisions to migrate and where to locate. We discuss a theoretical model explaining how these aspirations might be key influences in the migration decision. Using detailed continuous migration histories from the 2008-2012 Chitwan Valley Family Study, we estimate logistic and alternative-specific conditional logit models to examine how material aspirations in Nepal influence migration rates and destinations. Our empirical analyses provide strong evidence that material aspirations have large effects on overall rates of migration and affect destination-specific migration rates, particularly for relatively wealthy Western and Asian destinations. We also show an interaction effect between material aspirations and destination-specific expected earnings in influencing people’s migration choices. It is the people with high aspirations who migrate to destinations with high earning potentials.

DOI: 10.1007/s13524-018-0751-y

PMCID: PMC6501049