Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 593–629 | Cite as

Siblings’ interaction in migration decisions: who provides for the elderly left behind?

  • Tobias StöhrEmail author
Original Paper


In most poor countries, with high emigration rates, elderly people are dependent on their children for the provision of care and income. This paper is the first to explicitly model and estimate social interaction between siblings’ migration decisions in such settings. The interaction consists of two effects with opposite signs; a chain migration effect that can cause traditional caregiving structures to break down and an opposing specialization effect that increases family members’ incentives to remain at home and provide care when their siblings migrate. The estimates for Moldova, one of the countries with the highest emigration rates in the world, indicate that siblings’ interaction strongly decreases their equilibrium emigration rates. Siblings’ interaction is found to increase in line with the incentives that are assumed in the model. Hence, the paper provides evidence of the robustness of families’ informal security arrangements to large-scale emigration and has important implications for policies that aim at the population left behind.


Migration Social interaction Peer effects Elderly care Remittances Intra-family allocation Migration cost 

JEL Classifications

F22 J14 I19 D10 



I would like to thank Marcus Böhme, Brian Krauth, Judith Heidland, Toman Omar Mahmoud, Kacana Sipangule, Andreas Steinmayr, Rainer Thiele, Michaella Vanore, the editor, four anonymous referees, and seminar participants at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the University of Kiel, Maastricht School of Governance, SMYE 2013 and the 2013 AEL conference. All remaining errors are my own. Financial support from EuropeAid project DCI-MIGR/210/229-604 is acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kiel Institute for the World EconomyKielGermany

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