This new article by Mathias Czaika and Marc Vothknecht published in IZA Journal of Migration ask whether migrants are trapped on a hedonic treadmill.

There has been extensive research into the causes and consequences of internal migration in developing countries. In this article, authors Mathias Czaika and Marc Vothknecht provide new insights on the interaction between the individual’s decision to migrate and aspirations for the future, by asking whether aspirations are the cause of migration, the consequence of migration, or both.

Using longitudinal information from two waves of the Indonesian Family and Life Survey (IFLS) in 2000 and 2007, they authors find evidence that migrants are self-selected along higher individual aspirations acquired (or, inherited) before migration. Approximately 70 per cent of aspiration differentials can be explained by factors such as young age, good education, or superior socio-economic background, while the residual seems to be linked to an individual pre-disposition for higher aspirations.

Despite the fact that migration is economically beneficial for most migrants, the authors find that the migration experience itself seems to further increase economic aspirations, and thereby trapping migrants on a ‘hedonic treadmill’.