Journal Article

Cultural change and the migration choice


  • Lanati
  • M.
  • Venturini
  • A.
Publication Date


Cultural differences play an important role in shaping migration patterns. The conventional proxies for cross country cultural differences, such as common language; ethnicity; genetic traits; or religion, implicitly assume that cultural proximity between two countries is constant over time and symmetric. This is far from realistic. This paper proposes a gravity model for international migration which explicitly allows for the time varying and asymmetric dimensions of cultural proximity. In accordance with Disdier, Tai, Fontagné, Mayer (Rev World Econ, 145(4):575–595, 2010) we assume that the evolution of bilateral cultural affinity over time is reflected in the intensity of bilateral trade in cultural goods. The empirical framework includes a comprehensive set of high dimensional fixed effects which enable identification of the impact of cultural proximity on migration over and beyond the effect of pre-existing cultural and historical ties. The results are robust across different econometric techniques and suggest that positive changes in cultural relationships over time foster bilateral migration.


JEL Classification
F16, F22, Z10

Key Words

  • Migration
  • Trade in Cultural Goods
  • Gravity Model

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