THE IMPACT OF IMMIGRATION ON CHILD HEALTH: EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE FROM A MIGRATION LOTTERY PROGRAM

Authors

  • STEVEN STILLMAN,

    1. Stillman: Senior Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, Level 1, 97 Cuba Street, PO Box 24390, Wellington, New Zealand. Phone 64-4-939-4250, Fax 64-4-939-4251, E-mail stillman@motu.org.nz
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  • JOHN GIBSON,

    1. Gibson: Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand. Phone 64-7-856-2889, Fax 64-7-838-4331, E-mail jkgibson@waikato.ac.nz
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  • DAVID MCKENZIE

    1. McKenzie: Senior Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 20433. Phone 202-458-9332, Fax 202-522-3518, E-mail dmckenzie@worldbank.org
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    • We thank the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga for permission to conduct the survey there, the New Zealand Department of Labour Immigration Service for providing the sampling frame, attendees at the An International Perspective on Immigration and Immigration Policy Conference in Canberra, Australia for helpful comments, Halahingano Rohorua and her assistants for excellent work conducting the survey, and most especially the survey respondents. Financial support from the World Bank, Stanford University, the Waikato Management School, and Marsden Fund grant UOW0503 is gratefully acknowledged. The study was approved by the multiregion ethics committee of the New Zealand Ministry of Health. The views expressed here are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the World Bank, the New Zealand Department of Labour, or the Government of Tonga.


Abstract

This paper uses a unique survey designed by the authors to compare migrant children who enter New Zealand through a random ballot with children in the home country of Tonga whose families were unsuccessful participants in the same ballots. We find that migration increases height and reduces stunting of infants and toddlers, but also increases BMI and obesity among 3- to 5-yr-olds. These impacts are quite large even though the average migrant household has been in New Zealand for less than 1 yr. Additional results suggest that these impacts occur because of dietary change rather than direct income effects. (JEL J61, I12, F22)

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