​Internal Labor Migration as a Shock Coping Strategy: Evidence from a Typhoon

Authors: Andre Groeger and ​Yanos Zylberberg

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Vol. 8, No 2, 123-153, April, 2016

We analyze how internal labor migration facilitates shock coping in rural economies. Employing high-precision satellite data, we identify objective variations in the inundations generated by a catastrophic typhoon in Vietnam and match them with household panel data before and after the shock. We find that, following a massive drop in income, households cope mainly through labor migration to urban areas. Households with settled migrants ex ante receive more remittances. Nonmigrant households react by sending new members away who then remit similar amounts than established migrants. This mechanism is most effective with long-distance migration, while local networks fail to provide insurance.