The Impact of Immigration on Child Health: Experimental Evidence from a Migration Lottery Program

Steven Stillman, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research
John Gibson, University of Waikato
David McKenzie, World Bank Group

How does migration affect the health of the children of migrants? Simple comparisons of migrant and non-migrant children can be misleading because child health may be an important determinant of whether a family chooses to migrate. In this paper, estimates of the child health effects of migration are obtained by comparing immigrant children who enter New Zealand through a random ballot with children whose parents were unsuccessful participants in the same immigration ballots and who remain in their home countries in the Pacific Islands. Existing evidence suggests negative health consequences, such as increased diabetes and obesity, for Pacific Islanders who move to richer countries and contrasts with studies in other regions that find a positive impact of migration on child health. Our comparisons of child weight-for-height between migrant children and randomly selected control groups provide stronger evidence on the short-term effects of migration on child health.

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Presented in Poster Session 6