Does Moving Kill? The Effect of Migration on Older-Age Mortality

Janna Johnson, NORC at the University of Chicago
Evan Taylor, University of Michigan

This paper employs an instrumental variables strategy and a unique source of data to estimate the impact of long-distance migration on mortality over age 65. We consider individuals born in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana between 1916 and 1927. This group migrated out of these states at a very high rate and before the age of 40. We show migrants have higher education and earnings than non-migrants, two characteristics shown to increase longevity. To control for the selection on these and other characteristics, we instrument for migration using distance of an individual's place of birth from a railroad. Our results show that given that one has reached age 65, migration reduces the probability of living to age 75 by 16% compared to those who do not migrate. This finding has implications for countries currently experiencing high internal migration and for research investigating the causal relationship between education and health.

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Presented in Session 196: Migration and Adult Health