May 02, 2014
News /
Posted by NCID

Oded Stark, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Navarra Center for International Development, gave an intensive course entitled “Advanced Perspectives in the Analytics and Policy Design of Migration.” The course offered non-conventional approaches to the study of migration. One of several themes developed in the course was the interaction between relative deprivation and migration. Specifically, the course presented a theory of migration as a response to relative deprivation, and a theory of non-assimilation.  

“Relative deprivation” codifies the feelings of individuals who lag behind others in terms of a variable such as income. Because an individual’s sense of relative deprivation in a given environment (a given population, a given locale) can motivate that individual to leave, and because relative deprivation can be shown to be an increasing function of the fraction of the population whose earnings are higher than his own and a decreasing function of the fraction of those who are poorer than he is, an individual’s inclination to migrate increases when people who are poorer than he is leave the population, or when people who are richer than he is join the population, explained Oded Stark.

The concept of relative deprivation helps explain migrants’ limited attempts to assimilate. Quite often, migrants are observed not to assimilate as much as they would be expected to on the basis of standard comparison of the income gains from assimilation and the cost of undertaking activities geared towards assimilation. One reason for this reluctance to assimilate is that it would lead to greater social proximity to rich natives, which entails much relative deprivation, and distancing from fellow migrants, comparisons with whom yield little or no relative deprivation. From this angle, fear of assimilation could explain why migrants tend to cluster, to form enclaves, to make little effort to assimilate; namely, migrants stick together because they are afraid of assimilation, rather than failing to assimilate because they stick together, intimated Oded Stark.