Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/191786
Authors: 
Stark, Oded
Jakubek, Marcin
Szczygielski, Krzysztof
Year of Publication: 
2018
Series/Report no.: 
ZEF Discussion Papers on Development Policy No. 267
Abstract: 
We study the assimilation behavior of a group of migrants who live in a city populated by native inhabitants. We conceptualize the group as a community, and the city as a social space. Assimilation increases the productivity of migrants and, consequently, their earnings. However, assimilation also brings the migrants closer in social space to the richer native inhabitants. This proximity subjects the migrants to relative deprivation. We consider a community of migrants whose members are at an equilibrium level of assimilation that was chosen as a result of the maximization of a utility function that has as its arguments income, the cost of assimilation effort, and a measure of relative deprivation. We ask how vulnerable this assimilation equilibrium is to the appearance of a "mutant" - a member of the community who is exogenously endowed with a superior capacity to assimilate. If the mutant were to act on his enhanced ability, his earnings would be higher than those of his fellow migrants, which will expose them to greater relative deprivation. We find that the stability of the pre-mutation assimilation equilibrium depends on the cohesion of the migrants' community, expressed as an ability to effectively sanction and discourage the mutant from deviating. The equilibrium level of assimilation of a tightly knit community is stable in the sense of not being vulnerable to the appearance of a member becoming better able to assimilate. However, if the community is loose-knit, the appearance of a mutant will destabilize the pre-mutation assimilation equilibrium, and will result in a higher equilibrium level of assimilation.
Subjects: 
community cohesion
social proximity
interpersonal comparisons
relative deprivation
migrants' assimilation behavior
JEL: 
D70
J15
J24
J61
J70
O12
Z10
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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