Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 517–546 | Cite as

Remittances and well-being among rural-to-urban migrants in China

  • Alpaslan Akay
  • Corrado Giulietti
  • Juan D. Robalino
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann


The main objective of this paper is to propose a systematic approach to empirically analyse the relationship between sending remittances and the utility of migrants, as proxied by their subjective well-being (SWB). Using data from a new survey on China, we estimate models in which a SWB measure is regressed on the level of remittances, finding a sizeable positive correlation. The estimates vary with the socio-economic characteristics of migrants, migration experience and the diversity of family arrangements. As a complementary objective, we use SWB measures to elicit the motivations behind remittances, finding evidence that both altruistic and contractual motivations are at work among rural-to-urban migrants in China.


Migrants Subjective well-being Remittances 

JEL Classification

J61 D64 I3 



The authors would like to thank two anonymous referees for constructive comments. We are grateful also to Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Albert Park and participants in: the 4th CIER/IZA Workshop in Bonn, seminars at the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling of the University of Canberra, at Temple University, at Princeton University, the 24th EALE Conference in Bonn, the 7th IZA/World Bank Conference in New Delhi and the Chinese Economists Society Session “Challenges for the Chinese Labor Market” at the 2013 ASSA Meeting in San Diego. The paper is based on the IZA Discussion Paper 6631 “Remittances and Well-Being among Rural-to-Urban Migrants in China”. The Longitudinal Survey on Rural Urban Migration in China (RUMiC) consists of three parts: the Urban Household Survey, the Rural Household Survey and the Migrant Household Survey. It was initiated by a group of researchers at the Australian National University, the University of Queensland and the Beijing Normal University and was supported by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), which provides the Scientific Use Files. Financial support for RUMiC was obtained from the Australian Research Council, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Ford Foundation, IZA and the Chinese Foundation of Social Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alpaslan Akay
    • 1
    • 2
  • Corrado Giulietti
    • 1
  • Juan D. Robalino
    • 3
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.IZA—Institute for the Study of LaborBonnGermany
  2. 2.University of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.University of BonnBonnGermany

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