King’s College London: Better mobile internet access ‘increases desire to emigrate’

As the availability of 3G internet increases across a region or country, so too does the desire of the population to emigrate, with the effect also impacting upon people’s plans to emigrate over the following year.

Researchers believe the improved mobile internet speeds brought by 3G allows easier, faster and cheaper access to information, which motivates people’s desire to emigrate. The effect is most acute among people in high-income countries and for above median-income individuals in lower-middle-income countries.

Our estimates imply that in a country with 10 million adult inhabitants, a move from no 3G coverage to full coverage would increase the number of people desiring to emigrate by 56,000 to 486,000 and planning to emigrate by 200 to 176,000.
– Dr Cevat Giray Aksoy
The findings were revealed in the working paper, Mobile Internet Access and the Desire to Emigrate, co-authored by Dr Cevat Giray Aksoy (King’s College London), Joop Adema (Leibniz Institute for Economic Research), and Professor Panu Poutvaara (Leibniz Institute for Economic Research).

Dr Aksoy said: “The average increase in 3G coverage between 2008 and 2018 was 36 per cent across the 2,120 subnational regions we examined. Our estimates suggest that such an increase goes together with a 0.21 to 1.82 percentage point increase in the desire to emigrate permanently.

“Our estimates imply that in a country with 10 million adult inhabitants, a move from no 3G coverage to full coverage would increase the number of people desiring to emigrate by 56,000 to 486,000 and planning to emigrate by 200 to 176,000.”

Dr Aksoy added that improved mobile internet access also reduced perceived material well-being and also eroded trust in government and such increased dissatisfaction could be an additional channel through which mobile internet access increased desire and plans to emigrate.

For the study, researchers used two unique data sets: Gallup World Polls and Collins Bartholomew’s Mobile Coverage. Combining these allowed the researchers to draw on data from 617,402 individuals living in 2,120 subnational regions in 112 countries, collected over 11 years.

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