Economic and Non-Economic Determinants of Return Migration: Evidence from Rural Thailand

Short papers
By Martin Piotrowski, Yuying Tong


Using a cohort of 3,021 young migrants from rural Thailand, we examine economic and non-economic determinants of return migration. We “follow” this cohort prospectively for sixteen years from preadolescence to young adulthood. Data come from the Nang Rong project, a longitudinal study of an agrarian migration-sending area in the Northeast region which collected information over three waves (in 1984, 1994, and 2000). Our research extends beyond the economic “success-failure” dichotomy by examining non-economic institutional factors determining return. We find evidence of negative human capital selection, but we also find that connections to origin family members (including children, spouse, and parents) are important determinants of return. The effects of these non-economic family-related factors are as strong in magnitude as economic effects in determining return.

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