Corruption Perception, Expectations, and International Migration: New Micro-level Evidence

Helms, Benjamin, Foreign Affairs - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Leblang, David, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

Existing research on the drivers of international migration neglects the role of political institutions in origin countries, especially how political corruption might generate emigration pressures. I argue that since individuals consider the costs and benefits of migration prospectively, perception of high corruption in one’s home country encourages migration due to its effect on the expected future returns of remaining at home versus migrating. I hypothesize that individuals who perceive corruption to be high are more likely to migrate than those who do not, and that corruption perception is especially salient for highly skilled individuals with attractive exit options. Using micro-level data on individuals who live in developing countries, I find support for my argument, suggesting that corruption can generate demand for exit across the developing world. These findings have substantive implications for policymakers in sending and receiving countries who want to manage emigration and immigration flows, respectively.

MA (Master of Arts)
Migration, Corruption, Emigration, Immigration, Developing countries
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