Reassessing Migration and Health: Analysis Using U.S. County-Level Data

Sneha Lamba , Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Natalia Alfonso, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
David Bishai, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

We use U.S. county level data from 1994-2010 to test rational theories of human migration. We argue that the survival benefits of a location can be captured using measures of life expectancy which are offset by costs such as unemployment and taxes. We test our hypothesis through estimating models predicting migration both with and without lagged independent variables. Our findings do not support theoretical predictions. In general, we find no association between average life expectancy at the county level and out-migration or in-migration rates. Stratifying our data in terms of urbanization, education, income levels and racial composition of populations shows that the theoretical predictions hold true in very specific cases. We find a positive (negative) association between life expectancy and in-migration (out-migration) in higher (lower) quantiles of income, urbanization and college education.

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization