Journal Article

Migration, relationship capital and international travel: theory and evidence

Philip McCann, Jacques Poot and Lynda Sanderson

in Journal of Economic Geography

Volume 10, issue 3, pages 361-387
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 1468-2702
Published online September 2009 | e-ISSN: 1468-2710 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jeg/lbp044
Migration, relationship capital and international travel: theory and evidence

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  • Household Analysis
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In this article we consider how international migration is related to the frequency and duration of trips to the home country. For many migrants, international migration triggers a series of trips to visit the home country that allow for a replenishment of the depleted relationship capital with family and friends back home, but these trips incur travel costs and foregone earnings. Given plausible assumptions about the depreciation and replenishment of home country relationship capital, a steady-state level of average maintained relationship capital implies that the optimized travel frequency is inversely related to the distance and the transportation costs, and positively related to the psychological costs of separation. The total time spent at home is increasing in the trip frequency, but with an elasticity that is decreasing in cultural proximity. Empirical evidence in support of these theoretical predictions is found in a unique longitudinal sample of international travel of 13,674 New Zealand citizens and 6882 UK citizens who migrated to Australia between 1 August 1999 and 31 July 2000.

Keywords: International migration; trip frequency; relationship capital; F22; J61; R23; Z13

Journal Article.  13013 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Household Analysis ; International Factor Movements and International Business ; Economic Sociology ; Mobility, Unemployment, and Vacancies

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