Natural Experiment Evidence on the Effect of Migration on Blood Pressure and Hypertension

John Gibson2, David McKenzie3, Steven Stillman 1, Halahingano Rohorua2
1Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, New Zealand, 2University of Waikato, New Zealand, 3World Bank, USA

Over 200 million people worldwide live outside their country of birth and typically experience large gains in material well-being by moving to where wages are higher. But the effects of this migration on other dimensions of well-being such as health are less clear and existing evidence is ambiguous because of potential for self-selection bias. In this paper, we use a natural experiment, comparing successful and unsuccessful applicants to a migration lottery to experimentally estimate the impact of migration on health, specifically focusing on measured blood pressure and hypertension. We use various econometric estimators to place bounds on the treatment effects since there appears to be selective non-compliance in the natural experiment. Even with these bounds the results suggest significant increases in blood pressure and hypertension, which are likely to have implications for future health budgets given the recent increases in immigration.

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