A Large-Scale Binational Survey of International Migrants From Rural Bangladesh: Preliminary Evidence on Migration Costs, Earnings, and Health

Randall Kuhn , University of California, Los Angeles
Tania Barham, University of Colorado Boulder
Abdur Razzaque, ICDDR,B

This study uses two rounds of detailed survey data from Bangladesh to compare the health of international migrants, interviewed in person and by phone, to that of non-migrants and internal migrants drawn from the same sample. To our knowledge, this is the largest binational panel study of migrant health ever conducted. We control for baseline conditions, account for self-selection and address the role of country of destination, return migration and duration. Compared to non-migrants, overseas migrants experience lower levels of mortality, injury, poor general health and smoking. Yet they experience higher levels of obesity and hypertension. They perform better on positive dimensions of mental health like happiness, yet moderately worse on loneliness. Return migrants experience intermediate outcomes, with few significant differences from non-migrants. Our findings point to a model of health capital, in which migrants’ unique physical and emotional gifts are gradually eroded by the insults of the migration process.

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 Presented in Session 4. Migration and Health/Well-being