One major factor in migration over the past 50 years is that the costs and risks of international migration have declined considerably. (Go here). A popular idea in foreign aid today is to provide people in poor countries cash assistance, with one goal to reduce the desire to migrate If the U.S. gave Central American households cash on the condition they use it for education and healthly practices, would that reduce interest in migrating?
Cash transfers can include humanitarian payments during emergencies and cash for work programs.
One form of cash transfer is a conditional cash transfer requiring the beneficiary to perform in some way, but without constraints on where that person might eventually decide to live.
Conditional cash transfers in poor counties may be conditional on base to make basic investment in human capital: school attendance by children, and periodic health checks by adults.
This study casts cold water on the notion that providing cash to people in poor countries in need leads them to stay put in better economic condition:
Intuitively, it might seem like when families get a higher income where they live, they should be less likely to migrate away, whether higher income is caused directly via cash, transfer, or indirectly by more education. But the net effect is typically the opposite: those families are more likely to migrate. Two different effects work against the intuitive one.
First, cash, transfers directly alleviate constraints on migration in the short term. Members of many poor household have powerful economic incentives to migrate, but lack the means to offset the high cost and risk they incur by migrating. Second, transfers that are conditional on investment can raise the education level of young people in the household, raising migration in the long term. Families who have children with higher schooling attainment often have higher expectations for the children’s earnings relative to their ability to find good local jobs. In other words, in the short run cash transfers enable people to pay for migration, and in the long run increase aspirations for migration.
Cash transfer programs conditional on investment have raised beneficiaries rates of international migration in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Comoros.