ISER Working Paper Series 2006-24
The impact of internal migration on married couples' earnings in Britain, with a comparison to the United States
01 May 2006
Previous studies have often suggested that wives experience a decline in labor-market fortunes after an internal migration of a married couple. This evidence is consistent with wives being 'tied movers' on average. I use the British Household Panel Survey to consider the extent to which wive earnings change systematically following a change in economic location for married couples within Britain. The results provide little evidence that a migration event is associated with increased earnings for husbands. On the other hand, there is some suggestion that wive earnings fall after a change in location, with most of this fall due to a decline in weeks of work for wives. This evidence is sensitive to the definition of a change in location, with the largest evidence of a negative effect on earnings arising when long-distance moves of more than 50 kilometers are examined. A comparison to evidence from the United States suggests the effects may be similar in the two countries, and do not provide statistical support for the notion that the lower migration rates in Britain are associated with greater benefits to migration than in the United States.