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Emigration, remittances, and the subjective well-being of those staying behind

Ivlevs, Artjoms; Nikolova, Milena; Graham, Carol

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Milena Nikolova

Carol Graham


© 2018, The Author(s). We offer the first global perspective on the well-being consequences of emigration for those staying behind using several subjective well-being measures (evaluations of best possible life, positive affect, stress, and depression). Using the Gallup World Poll data for 114 countries during 2009–2011, we find that having family members abroad is associated with greater evaluative well-being and positive affect, and receiving remittances is linked with further increases in evaluative well-being, especially in poorer contexts—both across and within countries. We also document that having household members abroad is linked with increased stress and depression, which are not offset by remittances. The out-migration of family members appears less traumatic in countries where migration is more common, indicating that people in such contexts might be able to cope better with separation. Overall, subjective well-being measures, which reflect both material and non-material aspects of life, furnish additional insights and a well-rounded picture of the consequences of emigration on migrant family members staying behind relative to standard outcomes employed in the literature, such as the left-behind’s consumption, income, or labor market outcomes.


Ivlevs, A., Nikolova, M., & Graham, C. (2019). Emigration, remittances, and the subjective well-being of those staying behind. Journal of Population Economics, 32(1), 113-151.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 24, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 9, 2018
Publication Date Jan 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jul 30, 2018
Publicly Available Date Aug 10, 2018
Journal Journal of Population Economics
Print ISSN 0933-1433
Publisher Springer (part of Springer Nature)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 1
Pages 113-151
Keywords emigration, remittances, subjective wellbeing, happiness, stress, depression
Public URL
Publisher URL


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