Migration, Gender, Wages and Wellbeing: Who Gains and in Which Ways?

  • Kate Preston
  • Arthur GrimesEmail author


Empirical studies have consistently documented that while married men tend to lead more prosperous careers after moving, migration tends to be disruptive for careers of married women. We extend this literature by exploring whether migration is followed by a change in subjective wellbeing (SWB). We examine how this experience differs by individuals of different gender, relationship-status and motivations for moving (of both partners in a couple relationship, where relevant). The results are compared to wage differences following migration. All results are conditioned on time-varying personal characteristics, including important life events. Consistent with prior literature, males have a stronger tendency than females to increase their earnings after moving. However, we find that females have a stronger tendency than males to increase their SWB following a move. These gender differences are pronounced for couples. Differences tend to narrow, but do not disappear, once we account for motivations for moving of individuals and, where relevant, of their partner.


Migration Gender Relationship-status Subjective wellbeing Wages 

JEL Codes

D13 I31 J16 J22 R23 



This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either DSS or the Melbourne Institute. We thank Judd Ormsby for his insights and thank two referees of this journal for helpful comments on an earlier draft.


This research was funded through Marsden Fund Grant MEP1201 from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Motu Economic and Public Policy ResearchWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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