Author(s): Barkley AP, Mcmillan J
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Abstract PIP: This study examines the thesis that political institutions and the freedoms and civil rights generated by these institutions affect migration decisions. The hypothesis is based on one stated by Adam Smith in 1776, that economic conditions that reflect greater political freedoms and civil liberties harbor higher levels of resource mobility in response to economic incentives. Pooled cross-sectional and time-series analysis is based on data from the World Bank for 32 African countries during 1972-87. Findings support the hypothesis that migration rate is more affected by the expected returns ratio to labor in countries where civil liberties are greater than in nations with fewer civil liberties. The implication, from the inclusion of institutional factors in the model, is that civil liberties have an indirect impact on the rate of labor migration out of agriculture in Africa. The impact is a mix of economic incentives and civil liberties. In the political rights model, the most free countries had the largest migration elasticity. The findings on political rights impacts support findings by Friedman and McMillan that civil liberties are a more important determinant of economic growth than political rights. Further testing for measurement error confirmed that the data were flawed, but not so greatly that the basic findings were overturned. The migration out of African agriculture was found to be sensitive to the effect of price signals, which were conditioned by the degree of political rights and civil liberties. Policy makers are urged to consider both changes in pricing and institutions.
This article was published in J Dev Econ
and referenced in Business and Economics Journal