Do rights matter in migration decisions? Inference based on gender differences

Betül Simsek (University of Hamburg)
Jerg Gutmann (University of Hamburg)
Léa Marchal (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)


This article studies the role of institutions as a driver of international migration. We exploit the differential effect of discriminatory legal institutions with respect to the largest population experiencing such systematic discrimination – women – on individual migration decisions. We estimate the migration rate of females with respect to males using a gravity model derived from a RUM model of migration. Using data on 107 origin to 26 destination countries over 1960-2011 and an instrumentation strategy, we find that gender discrimination depresses the relative migration rate. Relative migration increases with equality in political rights and civil liberties in low-income countries, while it decreases with economic rights in middle- and high-income countries.

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