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Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG)


Project description

DEMIG is a theoretical and empirical assessment of policy, origin, and destination effects.

It is a five-year project (2010-2014) core-funded by the European Research Council (ERC) through a Starting Grant awarded to Hein de Haas, Senior Research Officer at the International Migration Institute. The DEMIG project addresses the question: how do migration policies of receiving and sending states affect the size, direction and nature of international migration?

DEMIG Research Project Briefing

Research objectives

The effectiveness of migration policies has been widely contested in the face of their hypothesized failure to steer immigration and their unintended, perverse effects.  Due to serious methodological flaws and data problems, most evidence has remained largely descriptive, biased and partial by omitting crucial sending country and policy variables.

Existing formal tests of migration determinants tend to exclude crucial sending country migration determinants as well as theoretically relevant non-economic and policy variables. Therefore, it is unclear how migration policies affect migration flows when controlling for the effects of other migration determinants.

More fundamentally, the contested nature of this debate reveals a still limited theoretical understanding of the multi-level forces driving international migration. Although there is consensus that macro-contextual factors in sending and receiving countries and internal dynamics such as networks and policies all play ‘some’ role, there is no agreement on their relative weight and mutual interaction.

Methodology and approach

In order to fill these theoretical and empirical gaps, the DEMIG project aims to generate new insights into the way states and policies shape migration processes in their interaction with other receiving and sending country migration determinants.  This will be done by embedding the systematic empirical analysis of policy effects into a new, comprehensive theoretical framework of the macro- and meso-level forces driving international migration.

The project will also compile new migration and policy databases and provide empirical tests for general migration theory by exploring the complex links between human development and migration.

Read more on the methodology…

Research team


European Research Council (ERC)

DEMIG is core-funded through an ERC Starting Grant. Starting Grants aim to support the creation of excellent new research teams to conduct pioneering frontier research in any field of science, engineering and scholarship. The European Research Council was launched in January 2007 with a mandate to award basic-research grants solely on the judgment of panels of scientific reviewers. The aim is to create the first large, pan-European competition for basic research.

Oxford Martin School

While DEMIG is core-funded by ERC, it has received additional funds through a matching grant of the Oxford Martin School. Because of their theoretical and methodological parallels, close collaboration will be sought with the Global Migration Futures, EUMAGINE and THEMIS projects at IMI.

For more information about this project please email

DEMIG Conference

DEMIG rectangle

'Determinants of International Migration' conference. 23–25 September 2014 | Wolfson College, University of Oxford.


A wide range of publications have been produced as outputs of DEMIG including: