Joint Migration Decisions of Married Couples in Rural China
Lei Meng, Min Qiang Zhao , Dewi Silvany Liwu
China Economic Review
#002230 20140605 (forthcomming)
In this paper we investigate whether it is empirically important to take into account the joint migration behavior of couples when examining married individuals’ migration decisions in rural China. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China (2011), more than half of rural migrant workers are married. Married couples’ migration decisions are not purely individual responses to different social and economic opportunities, but jointly determined within a family unit. The current approaches that examine Chinese migration issues do not explicitly take into account of the fundamental differences between personal and family decisions. We extend the current approaches to explicitly model joint migration decisions of married couples. Using the 2009 China data from the Rural-Urban Migration in China and Indonesia (RUMiCI) project, we examine important determinants of couples’ temporary migration decisions, such as the numbers of pre-school and school-age children. Our simulation and estimation results show that when analyzing married persons’ migration choices, it is more desirable to use a multiple-choice model than a binary-choice model because 1) it more effectively deals with nonlinearities created by joint decision-making; 2) it offers the possibility to study compositional change of joint migration outcomes.
JEL-Codes: J61; O15
Keywords: Migration; Family Decisions

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