Migration in the Face of Unemployment and Unemployment Risk: a Case Study of Temporal and Regional Effects

Stefanie Kley

Abstract


This article employs an elaborated model of migration decision-making and behaviour to analyse the influence of individually experienced unemployment and unemployment risk. Following a contrast group design, respondents from two cities inGermanywith different levels of economic prosperity are compared using event history data from a tailor-made panel study. According to a micro-economic approach to migration it is expected that respondents living in an economically deprived city are more likely to decide in favour of migration and actually move compared to those living in a prosperous city because they often perceive opportunities as better elsewhere than at their current place of residence. Moreover, perceiving a risk of becoming unemployed in the near future might trigger migration decision-making more in a deprived city because difficulties to find a new job at the place of residence are anticipated. On the other hand, the new household economics approach and the theory of social networks stress the importance of the meso level. Individuals seldom decide in favour or against migration solely; the family rather makes joint decisions. Former research revealed that for unemployed people social networks are a major source for social support and are therefore especially important. There is evidence that in deprived regions social networks deter individuals stronger from moving than in others. These theoretical considerations and findings lead to the expectation that once people are unemployed they seldom leave deprived regions, what is at odds with the expectations from micro-economic theory.

The analyses reveal that the perceived risk of becoming unemployed indeed triggers migration decision-making, but exclusively in the deprived city, whereas people who are already unemployed do not consider or plan leaving the city more often than employed people. Nevertheless, having a partner, children and family at the place of residence might outweigh the impact of a perceived unemployment risk on migration decision-making. When it comes to putting migration plans into action, it is found that the unemployed living in the deprived city are significantly more often constrained from moving compared to the unemployed living in the prosperous city. The analyses suggest that a concentration of social networks at the place of residence primarily accounts for this effect.


Keywords


Decision-making; Event history analysis; Migration; Social ties; Unemployment

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