Open Access
Salas García, Vania Bitia
Graduate Program:
Agricultural Economics
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Jill Leslie Findeis, Thesis Advisor
  • subjective well-being
  • migration
The literature in human well-being has paid more attention to objective well-being but during the last decade emphasis on quality of life has raised the importance of considering a subjective approach. Most studies have focused on measures of subjective well-being or the relationship between objective and subjective well-being. Beyond the link between subjective and objective well-being, the reality in Peru shows a high rate of internal migration which raises questions about the impact of migration on the perceived changes in subjective well-being of this population. This thesis attempts to understand the relationship between changes in subjective well-being and internal migration in Peru by comparing outcomes between migrant and non-migrant households. The study is focused on three populations to reflect household migration status: rural-to-urban permanent migrants, rural temporary migrants, and children growing up in migrant households. Perceived changes in quality of life is employed as an indicator of subjective well-being for the period 2005-2006 with three possible outcomes: getting better, remaining the same, or getting worse. Using data from a national household survey in Peru (ENAHO), this thesis proposes three hypotheses for analysis. First, it is hypothesized that rural households that migrate to Peru’s urban areas perceive that as the economy improves around them – as happened during the period of this study – that their subjective well-being lags behind that of urban natives. Second, it is hypothesized that in rural areas, temporary migration decreases the households’ subjective well-being, as the household becomes more fragmented in order to survive economically. And third, the ‘next generation’ young adults in rural-to-urban migrant households perceive that their subjective well-being is more likely to be improving, especially in comparison to their parents. Applying a generalized ordered logit estimation, the results show that migration status is statistically significant only in the permanent migration model when used to explain differences in the perceived changes between permanent migrant households and urban native households. In the temporary migration model, migration status fails to explain the differences in perceived changes of quality of life between rural households experiencing temporary migration with those rural households with non-migration behavior. Additionally, the results suggest that factors explaining subjective well-being vary depending on the type of migration considered in the analysis. Finally, for the third hypothesis, results show that the migration situation of children explains their more positive perception of household quality of life in comparison to children native to urban areas. In addition, the model results show that household per capita income is an important variable for all households, and that the relative income hypothesis applies in urban areas of Peru. Changes in GDP do not translate directly to improvements in quality of life for all households, but rather have differential effects – some households appear to receive a boost in well-being whereas others perceive a decline in household quality of life even when community income levels are controlled in the models. Finally, family variables are found to contribute to improvements in subjective well-being for households, with advancing age, a chronic health condition and being female having negative influences on perceived quality of life. The results of this research serve to underscore the importance of using the subjective well-being approach to complement the objective well-being (economic) indicators that are traditionally relied upon. Countries in the EU, as well as Thailand, already use subjective well-being measures for policy, recognizing that other indicators beyond the traditional – including both social and environmental – are potentially important. The results of this research clearly show that while important, income is only one dimension of quality of life, among many. And finally, the application of the subjective approach to migrant population in Peru has provided important insights, and as importantly has raised new research questions that are well worth exploring.