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To celebrate the 10th anniversary of IMI, this conference sought both to review the progress made in reaching the aim of developing a long-term and forward-looking perspective on international migration as an intrinsic part of global change, and explored new conceptual horizons for understanding migration processes and their impacts for origin and destination societies.

Call for papers

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Conference themes

The aim of this interdisciplinary conference was to advance theoretical understanding of the nature, drivers and impacts of migration processes. Presentations particularly addressed questions central to one of the IMI research themes:

1.    Drivers and dynamics. How do processes of social transformation and development shape human mobility? In what ways are interrelated processes of internal and international migration are driven by wider social, economic, technological and political transformations in origin and destination countries? What is the role of origin and destination states in shaping migration processes? To what extent do these insights challenge sedentary assumptions of policy?

2.    Development, inequality and change. What are the implications of migration for development and social transformation in destination and origin societies? In particular, how does migration affect social, cultural and economic change as well as patterns of inequality? Why does migration seem to have more positive development outcomes in some settings, and more negative outcomes in others?

3.    Diaspora, transnationalism and identity. How is globalisation affecting migrants’ ability and ways of sustaining long-distance and potentially inter-generational links with origin societies? How are transnational communities and diasporas formed? How do they impact on people’s identities? To what extent do they challenge conventional models of immigrant integration and the nation state?


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Video presentations

View 29 available video presentations

Abstracts and slides

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Mobile people, immobile structures: A study of labour migrants in India and access to social protection

Nabeela Ahmed (University of Sussex)

Unrestricted migration (and settlement) anywhere within India is constitutionally permitted for national citizens, yet labour migrants face a 'hostile policy environment' consisting of a range of implicit barriers (Rogaly et al., 2002). This paper explores such barriers faced by a highly mobile population of labour migrants, and focuses on access to national social protection programmes geared toward a sedentary population.

India is a country undergoing a rapid increase in urbanisation, and experiencing significant regional inequalities (Census of India, 2011; Bhagat, 2011). The social exclusion of groups such as migrants is therefore a crucial issue in discussions of social protection and efforts to address inequalities. To complicate the gap between constitutional rights and implementation, India’s 'quasi-federal' system of governance (Wheare, 1970) has engendered a heterogeneity of implementation realities in individual states when it comes to centrally-set policies, including those of social protection. Using the example of the Public Distribution System (PDS) – a universal food subsidy scheme and India’s largest social protection programme – and invoking contemporary theories of social protection, inclusion and vulnerability (Kabeer, 2000; Chambers, 1989 et al.), the thesis draws from empirical evidence on labour migrants in two diverse states, Maharashtra and Gujarat, to explore patterns and structures of migrant access.

The findings emphasise the complexities of labour migration, including the 'multi-locational' linkages migrants maintain between places of destination and origin, thus indicating a need for flexible access policies. In terms of broader objectives, this work aims to throw light on the relatively understudied area of internal migration (within the overall migration literature) and explore the interplay of sedentary policies and migrant dynamics within a shared citizenship regime, set against a context of ongoing legislative and policy developments intended to improve social protection for vulnerable groups yet perpetuating the exclusion of migrants (Deshingkar et al., 2009; Ruparelia, 2013).

Moving South: Understanding the development potential of the new Portuguese migration to Angola

Lisa Åkesson (University of Gothenburg)

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Since 2008 people in Portugal have been living in the shadow of the European economic crisis, whereas strong oil-fueled macro-economic growth has taken place in the Portuguese ex-colony of Angola. In consequence, Portuguese citizens have during the last years sought improved living-conditions in Angola on a massive scale. The status of these Portuguese migrants is ambiguous, as it is based in a position both as a former colonial settler and as a vulnerable labour migrant. Against this background, the aim of this paper is to explore how Portuguese migrants and Angolan natives understand the Portuguese migrants’ contribution to the ongoing social, political and economic changes in Angola. How do migrants and natives in the capital of Luanda view the Portuguese potential transfer of human and social capital, and how do they navigate around the changing power relations? In research on the migration-development nexus it is commonly assumed that it is only migrants from the global South, in their roles as remittance senders and returnees, who may play a role for socio-economic change in developing countries. Moreover, these migrants’ contributions are seen as driven by their moral commitment to their country of origin. In contrast, the Portuguese migrants’ view their contribution as deriving from a national Self which is both good at mixing and at transmitting knowledge. On the Angolan side, some see the Portuguese 'return' as a threat to their country’s possibilities of developing a future of its own, while others may view the Portuguese as either 'teachers' or 'similar to us and no better'. It is evident that colonial imaginaries continue to play a role for the construction of these understandings. Theoretically, the paper builds on an interpretative anthropological approach combined with a critical postcolonial perspective and inspiration from research on migration and development.

From the American Dream to the Mexican Nightmare: How US border control enforcement and migratory policies are fueling violence in Mexico

Francisco Alonso (European University Institute)

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Until now the literature on Mexican large-scale criminal violence has been dominated by explanations based in political change. This article presents an alternative explanation based on the US border control enforcement and migratory policies. It suggests that, for decades, Mexican migration to the US (regular and irregular) 'turned a problem into an opportunity' in Mexico through a variety of mechanisms, but mainly because remittances indirectly promoted peaceful existence by fostering individual mobility and educational opportunities; and because migration to the U.S. provided a 'hard currency' alternative to accumulate wealth vis-à-vis other high income but criminal activities. However, during the 2000s, the US post 9/11 migration policies and the enforcement of border controls closed this 'safety valve' composed of economic resources and alternatives for social mobility. Drawing on a municipality-year dataset that includes homicide, out-migration and remittance data for 2,443 local jurisdictions in Mexico during a ten-year time span (2000–2010) I question the established view about large-scale criminal violence based on democratisation and provide evidence that failed and deterred migration is, albeit unexplored, the key element for understanding nowadays violence in Mexico.

From illegality to tolerance and beyond: Irregular immigration as a selective and dynamic process

Maurizio Ambrosini (University of Milan)

Immigration defined as ‘illegal’ is a typical area where the dominant representations differ from social phenomena. In particular, actual policies differ from declared policies, and the behaviours of many actors, including public authorities and civil servants, diverge from declarations and formal rules. Within this framework, this article deals with two issues. The first is the selective treatment of irregular immigration by receiving societies: some forms of irregular immigration are widely tolerated, others are more actively rejected. The second, and related issue, is the easier transition to a legal status of some irregular migrants, especially those who encounter some forms of tolerance in receiving societies.

Focusing mainly on Southern European and the Italian setting, the paper will start by discussing how some immigrants are labeled as illegal and thus stigmatised (the case in point are now asylum seekers), while other immigrants, even when living in the receiving society without the necessary authorization, are neither perceived nor treated as ‘illegal’: the main case in point are women, hired by native households as domestic and care workers.

The paper will then discuss the passage to a legal status, in particular through regularisation processes, concerning mainly ‘tolerated’ irregular immigrants. To explain first tolerance and then the passage to a legal status, I will focus on actors that enable immigrants’ survival and progression, and in particular on the intermediaries between the receiving societies and irregular immigrants.

In conclusion, the paper will highlight: 1) the relations between the social recognition and formal authorisation of migrants; 2) the devices that immigrants can use to acquire legal status; 3) the main intermediaries who support immigrants in entering a new country, integrating into local society, and acquire legal status.

Belonging and the built environment: Transnational socio-cultural influences among first-generation Mexican immigrants in southern California

John Arroyo (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Immigrants arriving in the US not only come from different societies, but also from places with different physical characteristics. Studying how the built environment is socially and culturally shaped by the immigrant communities that inhabit them is important for US-based urban planning and design practitioners concerned with creating successful active spaces that are well-used and inclusive community-building environments. This is of particular relevance for Mexican immigrants, as they are the largest immigrant group – and the most populous Latino ethnicity – in the US. Previously, scholars of migration have provided insights into immigrants' understanding of their lives and the way in which they perceive their new roles in American society according to citizenship, political incorporation, and economics – often through a positivist lens. But few empirical user-centered studies exist about the way in which immigrants’ previously familiar understanding of their sending community’s built environment has resulted in changes to how they conduct their everyday lives in their US receiving community. Is there a demonstrable connection in migration and place with respect to socio-cultural relations? Thirty interviews were conducted and coded with residents from two highly populous first-generation Mexican communities (from both urban and rural sending communities) in southern California. This research demonstrates the growing tensions that result when planners and designers rely on elements of ‘Latino Urbanism’ to appease this population. It also suggest that the acculturation level of first-generation Mexican immigrants in southern California is mutable according to factors including the original physical characteristics of their host community, length of time spent in the US, and proximity to others from their home region in Mexico. I argue that for planning and design professionals to be truly inclusive of first-generation Mexican immigrants, they need to look beyond normative frameworks that often essentialise an otherwise heterogeneous population with competing built environment needs.

How do migration status changes influence remittances sending? An exploratory mixed-method approach for the case of Colombian and Ecuadorian migrants in Spain

Manuel Assner (Free University of Berlin)

This paper focuses on the relationship between changes in migration status of migrants and their remittances sent. The work follows Ecuadorian and Colombian migrants in Spain over a time period of 10 years. Their live-lines are analysed using a mixed-method approach for a sample of 50 migrant and 9 expert interviews. The period between 2003 and 2013 includes the large-scale legalisation in 2005 and also covers impacts of the economic turmoil from 2007 onward. Based on the two-sided assumption of possible increase or decrease of remittances sending through legalisation the methods of qualitative interview analysis and quantitative panel analysis help to gain new insights on the relation between migration status and remittances sending. It can be shown that each upward movement in more secure residence permits increased the propensity of sending remittances. The qualitative insights gained from the interviews also reveal a change in motivations to remit during the period. The dominant motive of sending money for the care of own children left in the country of birth was more and more replaced by a mixture of motives from investment to 'altruistic' sending. Family reunification has a negative effect on remittances, as every foreign-born child more residing in Spain reduces the propensity to remit for the families. Within the sample the effect of better job opportunities for family members and a change towards investment motives has tested to be stronger and increased remittances sending of migrants.


Lagos: Tracing mobilities and diversities within an African urban landscape

Naluwembe Binaisa (Max Planck)

In a rapidly urbanising Africa, communication technologies, particularly the mobile phone and internet, place Lagos at the crossroads of new and historic local, regional and global mobilities. In this era of the ‘networked society’ there is limited systematic evidence to holistically capture the continuities and discontinuities of a contested and expanding urban landscape. This research grounded within the micro-geographies of three areas in the city: Lagos Island and the Mainland areas of Yaba and Mushin, focuses on understanding this phenomenon through diverse everyday lives. The diffusion of communication technologies and their attendant applications emerges as a transformative point of departure that offers one set of infrastructures within evolving multi-level networks connecting the local, trans-regional and transnational. Through personal narratives and visual methodologies the research explores how people manage their lives in the city across three domains: work, socialities and family. This reveals contradictory positions where multiple positive narratives of socio-cultural, political and economic liberalisation vie with ingrained persistent inequalities, a fragile generational compact and a challenging environment. To trace ‘new’ and ‘old’ modalities of being and becoming; complex intersections of development, identity, resistance and innovation.

The migration–home nexus: A new perspective on migrant transnational engagement over space and time

Paolo Boccagni (University of Trento)

My paper aims to advance an original research agenda on the migration–home nexus, as a way to renovate the theoretical, methodological and empirical bases of transnational migration studies. Home – as a special and embedded relationship with place, and a source of distinctive emotions and social practices – is significantly affected by human mobility. It also provides a unique research venue on migrants’ everyday life and on its transnational side(s). Based on a conceptual overview across migration, home and built environment studies, my paper lays the foundations for the comparative study of migrants’ dwelling places, as venues of life routines and elicitors of symbols and practices with meaningful transnational implications. Analytically speaking, the forms, contents, orientations and material bases of migrants’ home experience will be mapped in a transnational perspective. This applies both to the physical and territorial bases of migrants’ homing experience, and to the social processes through which the implicit functions of home – i.e. security, familiarity and control – are more or less successfully pursued. Interestingly, the transnational literature makes a case for migrants’ unprecedented connectedness with home (societies), or for their novel scope to 'place home' in several locations simultaneously, with all of the underlying infrastructures, life routines, relational and emotional attachments. However, the very notion of home has been subject to relatively little elaboration from within the transnational approach. This paper aims to show how, and why, a better understanding of home – and better research on it – can mark a turning point in transnational studies at large.

Policing the Sahara beyond war and peace: The IOM and international migration control in Libya

Julien Brachet (University of Oxford)

The war that took place in Libya in 2011 forced 1.5 million people to leave the country. Many of them, from sub-Saharan Africa, were helped to return to their countries of origin by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The paper questions the purely humanitarian nature of the IOM intervention with references to its activities before and after the conflict. It shows that this organisation has long participated in the implementation of European migration policies in Libya, and more widely in the Sahara. Through the replacement of local politics by international crisis management, this desert is gradually integrated into a zone of international bureaucratic expedience. War and humanitarian intervention appear as contingencies in the progressive implementation of a global system of surveillance, spatial control and management of mobility in Africa.

Returning home: Migrant connections and visions for local development in rural Nepal

Jytte Agergaard and Ditte Brøgger (University of Copenhagen)

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Migration to domestic and international destinations has become an emblematic feature of Nepal’s societal changes. Part of this development is education migration from rural to urban areas within the borders of Nepal, an often overlooked but increasingly important aspect of contemporary migration flows. By focusing on these educational migrants, this paper explores how they connect to their rural homes. Guided by a critical reading of the migration-development scholarship, the paper examines how migrants and their relatives make sense of educational migrants’ remitting and returning practices, and by comparing three groups of educational migrants, the migrants’ reasons for staying connected and sending remittances are scrutinised. The paper finds that although educational migrants do not generate extensive economic remittances for local development in Nepal, they stay connected to their rural homes and partake in important social remittance practices that represent a vision for impacting local development.

South-South migration: Reflections from the Cambodia–Thailand system

Maryann Bylander (Lewis and Clark College)

Increasingly, migration scholarship is taking South–South movements seriously. Beyond the recognition that such movements comprise approximately half of all international migrations, there is also a growing understanding that South–South migrations may differ substantively from the South–North movements that inform most mainstream contemporary migration theory. Drawing on both qualitative and quantitative data from the Cambodia–Thailand system, this article suggests three ways that South–South migration patterns may complicate accepted theories of migration. First, despite the claim that the poorest of the poor in developing countries are less likely to migrate than those with greater resources, in the Cambodian context poor individuals in migrant-sending communities are as likely to migrate to Thailand as their relatively more wealthy counterparts. Similarly, migrants are no less likely to come from the most marginal areas of the country. Second, despite suggestions that migration is more likely to occur where credit markets are lacking, in Cambodia the opposite appears to be the case. Third, in the Cambodian context it is common for young people to migrate prior to completing their education. These movements complicate human-capital theories of migration and suggest that different forms of selection are likely to operate in South–South movements. Taken together, these findings challenge the easy application of South–North theories of migration onto South–South contexts and suggest the need for further empirical research on South–South migration.


Rumour and migration

Jørgen Carling and Tove Heggli Sagmo (Peace Research Institute Oslo)

Rumours are powerful and widespread elements in the dynamics of migration. Yet, the literatures on migration and on rumour remain largely separate. In this article we develop an analytical framework that seeks to explain the emergence and significance of rumours in migration processes. We show that a range of spatial, social and political aspects of migration coalesce to underpin the salience of rumours throughout migration trajectories and subsequent transnational relationships. Our empirical analysis addresses Burundian migration to Europe and the possibility of return to Burundi. We draw upon the Burundian material to illustrate the theoretical framework and subsequently examine two specific rumours and their impact on migration dynamics.

The global 'migration crisis': do we need to rethink the relationship between development, inequality and change?

Stephen Castles (University of Sydney) CONFERENCE KEYNOTE

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The determinants of migrant receiving and origin country electoral politics

Ali R Chaudhary (University of Oxford)

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Why do some migrants engage in the local electoral politics of their destination countries while others migrants gravitate towards transnational politics of their places of origin? The present study seeks to better understand variation in the directionality and forms of migrants’ electoral political engagement by arguing for an empirical approach that examines similarities and differences between migrant politics in receiving and origin countries. Rather than sustaining the epistemic divide between research on immigrant political incorporation and transnational politics, the present study compares the determinants associated with engaging in receiving and origin country electoral politics. In addition this study investigates the effects of origin and receiving country contexts on electoral political engagement. Using representative survey data from the LOCALMULTIDEM dataset (2004–2008), this study offers one of the first quantitative cross-national analyses of the relationship between migrants’ receiving and origin country oriented electoral political engagement. Findings suggest that a different set of factors shape migrants' engagement in receiving and origin country politics. However, those migrants who engage in the electoral politics of their receiving country are also likely to engage in homeland politics. Thus, findings suggest electoral political engagement in receiving societies is complementary with transnational electoral politics.

The rise of Singapore in the global academic talent race: Strategies and effects

Lucie Cerna (University of Oxford) and Meng-Hsuan Chou (Nanyang Technological University)

Skilled migration is a lifeline for advanced economies. By recruiting skilled professionals from abroad, key economic and knowledge institutions are able to retain a lead in international competitions to innovate. Economic downturns have yet to alter this basic assumption and have, in effect, highlighted its urgency. But companies and universities do not regulate migration; this is the responsibility of governments. While keenly aware of the well-articulated demands for skilled migration, governments face another cost-benefit consideration: electorates who oppose migration. Whether these sentiments are rooted in the actual costs of migration or more visceral concerns, governments do not dismiss them. In light of this tension, how do they go about regulating skilled migration? What strategies do governments use to effectively determine who comes in and which migrants are kept out? And have their strategies brought about the desired policy effects? Taking skilled migration as the research focus, this paper addresses the underlying question at the heart of the contemporary debate about the state’s role in a globalised era: is it still relevant? We offer evidence-based and theoretically-informed analysis for this debate through the case of Singapore, a country on the rise in both Asia and the world in terms of the effectiveness of its talent migration policies in attracting the best and brightest scientific minds to its labs and universities. We first discuss the three dominant approaches governments around the world have applied to attract foreign talent. We then present the Singaporean approach to talent migration. Next, we describe our methodology and case selection before discussing the effects of the Singaporean talent migration approach. We conclude with the lessons that the case of Singapore offers to identifying and explaining the drivers and dynamics of academic talent migration.

Moving migrants: Journeys across space and time

Robin Cohen (University of Oxford) CONFERENCE KEYNOTE

The globalisation of international student mobility: Assessing the role of policies and networks

Mathias Czaika and Yasser Moullan (University of Oxford)

This paper analyses the drivers and determinants of international student mobility during the period 1998 to 2012 from about 180 countries of origin to 19 European, North American and Asian destination countries. We investigate the role of migration policies such as visa requirements, availability of job seeker visa, or the existence of bilateral diploma recognition agreements, which are increasingly implemented in order to facilitate mobility of graduates and international recruitment of professionals. In addition to the empirical assessment of the relevance of those policies on international student mobility, we explore the role of multiple forms of networks in facilitating student mobility, in particular in the context where international mobility is constrained. For instance, we identify scientific collaborations and the respective ‘scientific proximity’ between countries as a so far neglected but highly relevant driver in international student mobility. In our analysis, scientific collaborations turn out as a very robust predictor of student mobility which we explain by the role scientific supervisors and mentors may play as key informants and knowledge-carriers for their students by sparking mobility aspirations and providing information about ‘good’ international study opportunities. Beyond the immediate role of academic advisors, we also explore the effects of the wider network of ‘peers’ as well as the overall role of the (tertiary educated) diaspora in shaping global student mobility patterns. We also find evidence for the existence of spatially-dependent transnational networks between origin countries with common historical with the same colonising power, or are simply geographically close enough in order to create network effects across origin countries which facilitate student migration in the same directions.   


Juxtaposing Pakistani diaspora policy wth migrants' transnational citizenship practices

Marta Bivand Erdal (Peace Research Institute Oslo)

States adopt diaspora engagement policies to tap into or embrace diasporas. This paper juxtaposes Pakistani diaspora policy with migrants’ transnational citizenship practices to explore conceptualisations of relationships between citizenship, territory and membership. The contrast between state policy and migrants’ everyday citizenship practices in the case of Pakistani migrants in Norway contributes to theoretical debates by revealing how states and migrants conceive differently – and sometimes in conflicting ways – of relationships between citizenship, territory and membership. Thus acknowledging migrant subjectivities and revealing particular power-geometries involved in this case of state-diaspora strategising. The paper draws on interviews with migrants and return migrants to juxtapose Pakistani diaspora engagement policies with three dimensions of migrants’ transnational citizenship practices: the National Identification Card for Overseas Pakistanis, remittances and return migration. The elusive nature of residency, which the state, migrants and non-migrants all relate to, is exposed, and underlines the potential scope for migrant subjectivities playing a role in affecting the power-dynamics of state-diaspora strategizing. The paper argues that there is a dissonance between the state policy level and migrants’ everyday citizenship practices, reflecting a different basis and logic for the actions of different involved actors.

Proximal transnationalism: Proximity as a salient feature in transnational processes

Marcos Estrada (University of Warwick)

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Living in proximity to the country of origin strongly impacts on transnational migrants’ identity, everyday practices and meaning of territory. It is because these transnational migrants engage in cross-border processes at a faster and lower economic cost and, possibly, hold stronger ties than migrants living far away from their country of origin. In addition, the local population living within border regions often engage in intense transnational processes without becoming migrants. This condition, I argue, deserves further development of theoretical approaches to transnationalism. Hence, I propose to go further and explore the specificity of this distinctive transnational process that might be defined as Proximal Transnationalism.

Proximal Transnationalism is a working concept that has been developed on analysis of my empirical data generated in the course of my ethnographic research in the bordering territories of Brazil and Paraguay. This concept emphasises the formation of a distinct type of transnationalism, facilitated by proximity that allows a greater regularity and intensity of practices that within these territories that seemly disregards the established political borders.

Evidently, the central feature of Proximal Transnationalism is how living in proximity to the country of origin plays a role in transnational migrants' and non-immigrants’ social understanding of their territory, and, more complex, the formation of a transnational space. In the case of individuals living within the Brazilian and Paraguayan border region, they have demonstrated how living in this transnational space, which they refer to as fronteira, plays a role in their everyday life. By fronteira, locals refer to a space as if in or through the borderline separating them from Brazil and Paraguay. It is a space where individuals strive for the optimisation of their centrality in transnationalism in terms of betweenness, the quality or state of being between two countries in politically defined political countries.


Imagined communities? Relations of social identities and social organisation among Afghans in Britain and Germany

Carolin Fischer (Université de Neuchâtel)

This paper investigates how social relations are exemplified in instances of self-identification, external categorisation and emerging ties among Afghan diaspora populations in Germany and the UK. Based on a qualitative case study and drawing on relational sociology (Emirbayer, 1997), it demonstrates that mutual perceptions among persons and groups of Afghan origin are filtered through a range of categories. Family ties, class backgrounds, ethnicity and political affiliations inform peoples’ attitudes towards each other and foster dynamics of inclusion and exclusion. Beyond particularistic identity categories there is evidence of an imagined community, which manifests itself in an implicitly shared concern about Afghanistan and a self-identification as ‘being Afghan’. Yet this imagined community is rarely reflected in diasporic networks of Afghan co-nationals. A relational approach helps to explain how social identity categories come to be selectively enacted. Focusing on transactions between people in given social contexts the paper illuminates to what extent and under which conditions Afghans in Germany and the UK see or refrain from seeing themselves as part of a wider diaspora. The findings underline the importance of a more dynamic understanding of diaspora formation and diasporic identities. This can be facilitated by approaching social identification and patterns of social organisation from a relational perspective.

Sub-Saharan migration to Europe in times of restriction: An empirical test of substitution effects

Marie-Laurence Flahaux (University of Oxford), Cris Beauchemin (Institut national d'etudes demographiques) and Bruno Schoumaker (Université catholique de Louvain)

Studies on the effects of migration policies are usually hampered by a lack of data related both to migration policies and to migration itself. We analyse trends in policies and migration focusing on flows between Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe since the mid-1970s. Using the data of both the DEMIG and MAFE project, we compare flows and policies of 3 African countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Senegal) and 6 destination countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK). Testing the ‘substitution effects’ of restrictive migration policies, we show that these policies do not result in less out-migration, but rather end up with more irregular migration and less returns. It does not mean that migration policies completely fail, but suggests that other determinants are at play, such as social networks, work opportunities in destination areas or economic and political context at origin.

Between populist liberalism and a new commitment to human rights: Recent immigration and asylum policy cycles in Latin America

Luisa Feline Freier (LSE and Universidad del Pacífico)

Over the past decade, developments in Latin American immigration and asylum policies have deviated from the global trend of increasing policy restrictiveness. A significant number of countries have left their historically securitised outlooks on human mobility behind and passed immigration and asylum laws that focus on the protection of human rights. Intriguingly, the political discourses in the region tend to be even more progressive than legislative reforms, reflecting ‘populist liberalism’ and resulting in positive ‘discursive policy gaps’. What explains this paradigm shift and what have been its consequences? This paper uses mixed methods to analyse the immigration and asylum policy cycles (i.e. discursive and policy liberalisation, changes in immigration flows and asylum applications, and subsequent policy reactions). The three case countries represent distinct cases along the liberalisation continuum: Argentina has undergone the most significant legislative liberalisation in both policy areas; Mexico has passed expansive asylum legislation but maintains a controversial immigration law; and Ecuador is the most paradigmatic case of discursive populist liberalism, but lags behind in legislative reforms. The paper concludes by discussing the theoretical and normative implications of my findings for theory and practice in Latin America and beyond.


Diverse mechanisms of international migration: the Mexico-US case

Filiz Garip (Harvard University) CONFERENCE KEYNOTE

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Why men migrate: Relative deprivation, risk attitudes and migration in Thailand

Johanna Gereke (European University Institute)

Previous research has shown that poverty, income inequality, and relative deprivation are important factors explaining migration decisions. However, the role of risk attitudes in mediating the relationship between relative deprivation and migration choices has so far been overlooked. Specifically, migration is often a risky endeavour, and relative deprivation may increase migration propensity by raising individuals’ willingness to take risks. This study examines how relative deprivation affects risk-taking, distinguishing between risk determined by chance and risk due to the opportunistic behavior of other individuals. Using an incentivised lab-in-the-field experiment, I test whether relative deprivation increases the willingness to accept both types of risks among aspiring migrants from rural Thailand. I find that relative deprivation significantly increases individuals’ willingness to take risks determined by chance. However, my findings also indicate that relative deprivation may decrease individuals’ propensity to take social risks, i.e. to trust another person. Together, the results suggest that the positive relationship between relative deprivation and migration propensity operates primarily through the risk-as-chance channel. 

States of convergence and change: A data-driven taxonomy and analysis of human mobility governance in 34 countries

Anna Boucher (University of Sydney) and Justin Gest (George Mason University)

Despite the advanced state of migration studies, we lack a contemporary system of regime classification of immigration nations. Current migration typologies also focus on the Global North and largely exclude South–South immigration. Presenting results from a study of 34 immigration countries across the world, we develop a new taxonomy of migration regimes that considers among other factors, democracies and non-democracies, traditional destinations and emerging destinations. Drawing upon original data collected in a wide range of countries including the Gulf Cooperation Council, Singapore and China, with Latin America and the OECD, our taxonomy demonstrates the necessity of considering these countries in contemporary analysis of immigration. In doing so, it provides a powerful critique of existing approaches. We also establish the existence of a nexus between admission and settlement approaches; states that are open in their selection of immigrants are also more open to naturalisation. After deriving this taxonomy, we then test central explanations for the variation we identify.

Remittances and expenditures of Peruvian households left behind

Gabriella Berloffa and Sara Giunti (University of Trento)

This paper uses data from the 'Peruvian National Survey of Households' (ENAHO) (2011) to investigate if consumption patterns of Peruvian households left behind are affected by the receipt of migrant remittances. Using an Almost Ideal Demand System (AIDS), we assess to what extent receiving income transfers from migrants fosters resource allocation towards human capital investment, with particular attention to healthcare consumption. Both domestic and international remittances are considered, in order to determine whether differences exist in their impact on household consumption patterns.

Establishing causal effect is complicated by non-random selection of migrants and reverse causality between the decision to remit and the healthcare consumption choices. These endogeneity issues are addressed implementing an instrumental variable estimation. We use historical department-level migration and remittance rates to instrument household remittance status.

The results show that households receiving both domestic and international transfers spend more at the margin on health and education while less on food, suggesting a tendency to address additional income from remittances toward human capital investment, rather than consumption goods. Our findings suggest that migrant remittances have an effect on consumption patterns which is independent of total income effect. This evidence may indicate the presence of a commitment for sending households to use remittance income for specific purposes. At the same time, it can also be motivated by a transmission of health knowledge linked to money transfers, which incentives household members left behind to lead into better healthcare practices.

Social remittances and the unintended social consequences of temporary migration from Poland

Izabela Grabowska (University of Warsaw) and Godfried Engbersen (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

This paper analyses the unintended consequences of temporary migration from Poland by combining Merton’s functional analysis with Levitt’s work on social remittances. Besides economic remittances, Polish migrants have been bringing, since the end of nineteenth century, norms, values, practices and social capital to their communities of origin. The analysis presented in the article brings a juxtaposition of non-material effects of past migration from Poland, from the turn of the twentieth century to contemporary migration from Poland since the 1990s. The analysis uncovered that some aspects, such as negotiating gender roles, changing households divisions of labour, individualistic life styles, new skills and sources of social capital, and changing economic rationalities are continuous subjects of transfers by migrant from destination to origin communities. However, contemporary digital tools facilitate these transfers and create new ideas, values and practices as a result. The article demonstrates that migration fulfils specific functions for designated parts of the Polish society by replacing some functions of the communist state (e.g. factory and post-coop cultures) and by facilitating adaptation to changing conditions (e.g. more equal gender relations; new models of family; social mobility). The paper is based on a review of the literature since nineteenth century and the results of the research project Diffusion of culture through social remittances between UK and Poland, funded by National Science Centre Poland (Grant No. 179068; 2012-2015).


Refugees and asylum seekers, the crisis in Europe and the future of policy

Tim Hatton (University of Essex) CONFERENCE KEYNOTE

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The new international migration: Settlement and the decline of transnationalism

Richard Jones (University of Texas at San Antonio)

Transnationalism as a paradigm within the international migration literature implies sustained, high-intensity interaction between origin and destination communities. By this definition, migrant transnationalism is declining, as external events since 2000, coupled with a transnational migration process leading to settlement (Massey et al. 1994), have weakened transnational social fields. I develop a graphic model of this process over time, showing increasing and then decreasing socio-economic capital for origin households, and decreasing followed by increasing pro-modernisation values. The middle section of this graph marks the greatest commitment to the origin, including a maximisation of both remittances and traditional values. This stage also marks the highest level of transnationalism. As the migration process advances, however, remittances drop and pro-modernisation values rise, level off, and decline with settlement of the branch household at the destination, resulting in a social distancing between branch and origin households in a process that has been referred to as dissimulation (Fitzgerald 2009). A number of empirical studies that support this argument are reviewed. Finally, the implications of this process for future international labour migration are discussed. 


The documented community of the nation? Bureaucratic practices and transborder membership politics in Korea and beyond

Jaeeun Kim (University of Michigan)

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Over the last two decades, scholars have shown growing interest in the relationship between the state and 'its' external members (e.g., emigrants, diasporas, and ethnonational 'kin'). Transborder membership politics involves political claims, institutionalised practices, and discursive representations oriented to or generated by those who have durably resided outside the territory of the state, yet are perceived as belonging to that state or to the associated nation. This paper examines the hitherto underexplored dimension of transborder membership politics: the role of the historically evolving and mutually interlinked bureaucratic practices in shaping the contours of transborder membership politics over time. Building on the recent culturalist/cognitive turn in theories of the modern state, I develop a set of general theoretical arguments about how bureaucratic procedures contribute to the making, unmaking, and remaking of the 'homeland' state and the 'transborder nation': by constituting the conceptual grid through which a state identifies and enumerates 'its' transborder population and mobilises them for its own agendas; by mediating the reiterative encounters between the state and 'its' transborder population, and thereby shaping the vernacular idioms of self-identification of the latter; and by leaving durable documentary traces, to which a state turns to validate the belated claims to national belonging by those whose long defunct ties to their 'homeland' seem ambiguous. I flesh out these claims through the analysis of two contentious episodes of transborder membership politics: South Korea’s effort to create its own docile citizens out of ethnic Koreans in Japan in a fierce competition with North Korea; and South Korea’s effort to control its territorial and membership boundary from ethnic Korean 'return' migrants from China. The paper extends the constructivist perspective on transborder membership politics, overcomes the methodological nationalism informing theories of the modern state, and offers a comprehensive portrayal of the agency of transborder populations.

Why liberal states restrict wanted immigration: Citizenship regimes and the politics of highly-skilled immigration policy

Melanie Kolbe (University of Georgia)

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What explains cross-national differences in rights-allocations of highly-skilled immigration policies among Western industrialised countries? This paper is motivated by a striking empirical puzzle: most industrialised countries design policies intended to secure a competitive edge in the global market by attracting qualified migrants (e.g. engineers, researchers, or IT specialists), however, many of the policies are much more restrictive, in particular in regard to work rights, than one would expect. Why can some countries be open to highly-skilled immigrants while others cannot?

While previous work on labour immigration policies has focused on client politics arguments, highlighting the instrumental role of labour unions and business associations, this paper argues that the difference in work rights granted to highly-skilled immigrants is also determined by how inclusive or exclusive national citizenship configurations are. As institutional frameworks for discursive opportunities, citizenship configurations make some arguments on immigration more legitimate than others in policy discourse, and crucially affect the trade-off between different policy goals.

Comparing policy discourses and policy output in Germany and Austria through cross-sectional, structured-focused comparison, I find that institutional variation of citizenship configurations across societies are an important determinant of highly-skilled immigration policy output.

Irregular migrants' decision making factors in transit

Katie Kuschminder (Maastricht University)

This paper examines how migrants make the decision whether to stay in the country of transit, migrate onwards, or return to their countries of origin while in a transit country. The majority of a limited academic literature on migrant decision making has been concerned either with the decision to migrate in the first place (for example distinguishing voluntary from forced migration), or the decision whether to return. Decision making in transit has not been explored in depth. Migrant decision making in transit is influenced by conditions in the country of origin, conditions in the current country of stay (transit country), conditions in the perceived destination country, individual and social factors, and policy interventions. This paper considers these multiple factors in the analysis of 1,028 surveys with migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria collected in Athens and Istanbul in spring 2015. Regression analysis has been used to predict the factors determining the desire of migrants to migrate onwards as compared to stay in the current country or return.


Hometown transnationalism: Long distance villageness among Indian Punjabis and North African Berbers

Thomas Lacroix (Université de Poitiers)

From Mexico to India, from Western and North Africa to Latin America, hometown organisations are core actors of major grassroots development dynamics in the world. Their collective remittances, that is to say development initiatives carried out for the benefit of their place of origin, have been attracting a growing attention from both academics and policy makers. However, migrants have not waited for the design of policy strategies to engage in development practices. Focusing on North African and Indians in Europe, this book analyses the social mechanics that are conducive to collective transnationalism.

Resting on an innovative theoretical framework, it renews our understanding of cross-border social formations by highlighting the importance of temporality and identity dynamics. Hometown organisations are understood as migrant social institutions in which hometowners seek to re-invent the meaning of their villageness, when, after decades of residence in the arrival country, they share little more in common than their shared origin. Development projects, in this context, are understood as emergent practices through which emigrants re-assert their allegiance to the place of origin while putting forward the multiplicity of their embedding and identity. This dynamics of transnationalisation happens in a context of structural transformation of development governance in the place of origin. The structural adjustment programmes in the three investigated countries weaken the capacity of local authorities to implement development strategies, leaving a void which is filled in by civil society actors, including migrant associations.

This common scenario, however, differs from one case study to the other. Indian Punjabis can rely on strong internal financial capacities to undertake large development projects. Moroccans offset their weaker financial resources by a massive associational mobilisation that serves as a net for harvesting of public funding in Europe. Algerians, in contrast, display a lower engagement into development initiatives, due to the maintaining of a more centralised state apparatus in Algeria and a fragmented associational field in France.

From expatriation to social promotion in the Global South: Intersection of Chinese SEO globalization and Chinese expats' mobility trajectories in Ghana

Katy Lam (Hong Kong Baptist University and the Max Weber Foundation)

This paper aims to understand Chinese mobility and globalisation in the Global South. Informed by ethnographic investigations in Ghana, a mobility paradox is observed in the trajectories of Chinese expats of Chinese state-owned entreprises (SOEs): physical mobility becomes resources for social mobility, but such social promotion then leads to physical immobility. Many Chinese expats extend their stay in Ghana for a prolonged period. How should be Chinese expatriation trajectories understood in the migration logic/ theories? In parallel, their SOEs tend to localise further in Ghana and not necessarily expand their globalisation in other African countries. Are there any linkages between the globalisation-localisation and expatriation-migration and how to explain? This paper will analyse these observations with the social transformations taking place in China and social embeddedness of the hosting country. Through studying the Chinese mobility pattern in the Global South, the paper hopes to shed light on how south-to-south globalisation influences and enhances, but also conditions mobility-opportunity structure, in the era in which developing countries increasingly become globalisation and migration destinations.

Making of 'skilled' overseas Koreans: Transformation of visa policies on co-ethnic migrants in South Korea

Sohoon Lee (University of Sydney) and Yi-Chun Chien (University of Toronto)

In this paper, we review the changes in migration policies on Korean-Chinese (Joseonjok) co-ethnic migrant workers in South Korea in the last ten years. In particular, we pay special attention to Working Visit Status (also known as H-2 visa) and Overseas Korean Status (F-4 visa) and the fluidity between the two visa statuses. By documenting the policy changes in the last decade, we track the transformation of legal status options available for Korean-Chinese migrants to unearth micro-politics of organising and reorganising visa categories as means of governance from the policy perspective. We argue that the South Korean government utilises the skilled/unskilled divide as a way of 'staggering' the migration process, and Korean-Chinese migrants are required to pass multiple gates of temporariness in view of gaining full membership. Although the state rhetorically uses visa policies as a quality-control mechanism to selectively accept desirable population, it can only do so by relying on the market to assess the value of labour migrants, and this has caused unintended consequences. Despite the government’s superficial stance to restrict 'unskilled' migration, Korean-Chinese migrants are welcomed in the informal labour market which experiences shortage, and they contribute to the expanding migration industry as consumers. By reviewing policy discourse and through in-depth interviews with policy makers and civil society organisations, we demonstrate blurred distinction between skilled/unskilled visa schemes and contentious space in overseas Koreans (dongpo) policies that recognises migrants’ value with ambiguity and confusion.

International emigration and the labour market outcomes of women staying behind: The case of Morocco

Audrey Lenoël (National Institute for Demographic Studies) and Anda David (DIAL)

Recent academic literature has focused on the impact of international migration on wider societal change at origin, especially in relation to women’s status and gender roles. As a factor of economic autonomy, paid employment is often considered as an indicator of this status. Despite its characteristically large emigration, there is a dearth of studies looking at the link between international migration and the labour market participation of women staying behind in Morocco. This paper aims to address this gap by examining the effects of migration on women’s activity rates in Morocco through a mixed method approach. Using the 2006–2007 Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS), we find that having a migrant in the household increases women’s labour participation, while receiving remittances decreases it. However, while migration increases women’s probability of being an unpaid family worker, this effect is not observed for income-generating activities. Qualitative interviews with women staying behind in the Souss region indicate that while traditional attitudes are an important factor in female low levels of engagement in paid activities, the most compelling reason behind this situation lies in the lack of good job opportunities for women.

The boundaries of transnationalism: The case of assisted voluntary return migrants

Ine Lietaert (Ghent University)

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When migrants return to their country of origin, it is often assumed that transnational ties easily exist. Yet, we question this presupposed transnationalism in migrants who return with few resources and limited access to mobility, through studying transnational connections of migrants who returned with assisted voluntary return and reintegration programmes from Belgium to Georgia and Armenia. Using Boccagni’s (2012) analytical framework, we distinguish interpersonal, institutional and symbolic transnational ties and important analytical differences between the contexts of return migration and migration to host countries. Further, returnees had limited and weak transnational ties, with a mismatch between the desire and ability to participate in the transnational field. Owing to this mismatch, the returnees’ ties showed mainly symbolic and emotional value, with limited impact onto respondents’ daily lives. However, this does not devalue their large importance, calling for broader attention to the subjective dimension of transnationalism in the return–transnationalism study field.


Returns to Somalia: Transformation and agency in return and reintegration processes

Nassim Majidi (Sciences Po and Samuel Hall)

From Afghanistan to Somalia, international interventions have justified the returns of refugees, migrants and failed asylum seekers ‘home’. Somalia in 2015 has seen refugee returns from Kenya, forced returns from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and migrant returns from Europe. Although the context was deemed too insecure in 2014 for returns, in 2015 the rationale has changed: returns are not only accepted, return areas have expanded. The Federal Government of Somalia has issued a returns policy, concerned of the limited absorption capacity at home. At the same time, European governments are seeking options to scale up returns to Somalia. Where do Somali returnees fit in this political landscape? What do we know of the post-return outcomes?

Based on Bakewell’s seminal work on Returning refugees or migrating villagers? (1999) and using empirical data collected in Kenya and Somalia in 2014 and 2015, we will study the ‘reintegration bias’ of return policies. A particular lens will be given to each demographic group – women, men and children – as well as to different return categories – inclusive of refugee returns from Kenya and voluntary returns from Norway.

This paper challenges the reintegration bias of return policies – it shows that stepwise migration, split returns and children left behind are obstacles to reintegration. They result in conditional and temporary returns and limited reintegration. Furthermore, the views of youth, children and women are not integrated in traditionally ‘gender blind’ and ‘youth blind’ policies. A better understanding of the drivers and dynamics of return is needed to highlight its outcomes – if the context is not ripe for an environment of ‘return and reintegration’.

Bulgarian migration to the UK: The influential power of the imaginary West

Polina Manolova (University of Birmingham)

The increasing popularity of the UK as one of the most-preferred migration destinations amongst Bulgarians is in contrast to the hostility with which migrants tend to be met in British society and the precarious working and living conditions they often experience. This paper claims that this paradox of popularity despite hostility cannot be adequately explained with economic push factors or by conceiving contemporary migrants as rational individuals who are seeking to maximisze their utility. Instead, it is argued that a collective imaginary of the West, offering the possibility of a better quality of life, often informs migratory aspirations and trajectories based on emotional and intuitive reasoning. By following the individual journeys of a number of Bulgarian migrants to the UK this paper deconstructs the imaginary West represented in their narratives as an interesting amalgam between socialist normality, marked by predictability and security, and a liberal-democratic modernity which entails a new model of entrepreneurial subjecthood. The appropriation and deployment of different aspects of this imaginary is carried out in accordance to migrants' subjective experiences, social positioning and the different capitals (economic, social, and symbolic) at their disposal. The article further discusses how migration experiences, often entangled in both hope and desperation, lead to a constant re-examination and negotiation of the migratory projects. In this process the imaginary of the West does not lose its pre-invested meaning and tends to be uncritically reproduced in the practice of migration. Thus it is suggested that hegemonic binaries of backwards East versus progressive West inform the way in which Bulgarians imagine a global world order; serve as a benchmark for producing self-representations and social divisions; and are most of all sustained and reinforced in the migratory process.

Dynamics of internal mobility of nurses in the Gambian health system: Prerequisites for international migration

Angèle Flora Mendy (University of Lausanne)

Based on 25 semi-structured and in-depth interviews with nurses and nurse lecturers in The Gambia (April and October 2015), this paper aims to describe the dynamics of internal mobility of Gambian nurses within the health system. It demonstrates how the process of internal mobility is consciously perceived by Gambian nurses as being prerequisite for their international migration, whereas health authorities believe it postpones the decision to migrate. The findings show that Gambian nurses develop and acquire a social and professional background by moving between the state health sector and the private and semi-private health sector. Through this process, they try by anticipation to prepare themselves for the eventual status of migrant nurse in a destination country, where they will face a new social and professional environment.

Diasporas and conflict

Marion Mercier (Université catholique de Louvain), Fabio Marani (Université catholique de Louvain) and Thierry Verdier (Paris School of Economics)

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In this paper, we study the relation between emigration and conflict in developing countries,
which has been overlooked by the economic literature. We build a model of conflict in which two (ethnic) groups contest a given resource that can be consumed as a (group-specific) public good. Open conflict requires labour, and involves the destruction of resources. Within each group, agents collectively decide on the optimal allocation of labour between conflict and productive activities. In this setting, we introduce a diaspora emanating from one of the two groups of origin, which can decide to get actively involved in the conflict by transferring financial resources to its group of origin. The diaspora thus affects the intensity and outcome of the war. Finally, given the characteristics of the conflict equilibrium, the two groups of residents may choose to negotiate a pacific settlement if there exists a sharing rule that makes both of them better off than conflict. Again, we show that the peace { war tradeoff is affected by the size of the diaspora, and identify the characteristics of the economy that determine whether the diaspora behaves as a peace-wrecker or as a peace-builder
for its country of origin. Last, we develop a dynamic version of the model that accounts for the endogeneity of migration with respect to conflict in the home country. Simulations allow to derive predictions about the joint dynamics of migration and violence at home which policy implications, notably toward refugees in host countries, are eventually discussed.

Migrant women, transnational relations and social change: How do Senegalese women combine migration with family life?

Nathalie Mondain (University of Ottawa)

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Despite a growing interest in the numbers and characteristics of women migrating internationally, few studies explore the drivers and conditions in which people, and particularly women, migrate: their motivations, the social and financial means they mobilise in order to move, how migrant women are perceived in the country of origin and destination. Moreover, the widespread idea that migration is gendered because of men’s and women’s respective social roles and statuses in the society of origin should be further nuanced in a context of chronic socioeconomic crisis leading to households’ constant vulnerability to various hazards. Even in societies historically based on a patriarchal system such as the Wolof people of Senegal, where women are essentially defined through the roles they are playing as wives and mothers, they have always been mobile. Therefore, one key issue is how the patterns of women’s mobility are changing in the contemporary globalised world and particularly how they develop their own individual migration project: choice of country and where in that country, activity, with whom, when in their life course, the way they manage their family left behind or migrating with them. Drawing from 23 qualitative individual interviews conducted in 2012–2013 among migrant women in a small town in the North-West of Senegal subject to an intense and essentially male international outmigration to South-European countries since the mid-1980s, we are aiming to broaden the discussion by demonstrating how women manipulate the normative discourse and expectations from their society of origin to either develop their own independent migration project or, for those who are migrating with their partner, nevertheless find ways to reinforce their role and status in their community through migration. This leads us to further question the notions of empowerment and autonomy for women who appear to be extremely ambivalent in their desires and choices.

Is there a 'pig cycle' in the labour supply of doctors? How training and immigration policies respond to physician shortages

Yasser Moullan (University of Oxford) and Xavier Chojnicki (University of Lille)

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Many OECD countries currently face shortages of physicians in remote areas. Policy makers try to tackle this issue by increasing the number of individuals entering medical school training and by recruiting internationally. This paper investigates which strategies OECD governments adopt and when these policies are effective in addressing the medical shortages. Due to the length of time medical training requires, the impact of the expansion of medical school capacity should take longer to be effective than the recruitment of foreign physicians. We have built a dataset that comprises information about physician shortages, the number of medical school graduates, and the number of foreign-trained physicians by using the A. Bhargava et al. (2011) dataset for 17 OECD countries between 1991 and 2004. We find that OECD governments, after a period of medical shortages, produce a higher number of medical graduates in the long run but in the short run face an increasing emigration of their practicing physicians and recruit highly from abroad. In terms of policy time delay, medical education policy adjustments take at least five years to produce an effect whereas recruitment from abroad takes only one year to address the shortage issue.


Maghreb emigration: Fifty years of state influence

Katharina Natter (University of Amsterdam)

This paper explores the role of states, post-colonial ties, and migration policies in emigration from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia to main European and North American destinations since the 1960s. New bilateral migration flow data compiled in the DEMIG C2C database reveals that there is no homogeneous narrative of Maghreb emigration. Instead, emigration patterns portray phases of convergence and divergence: In the post-independence period, emigration boomed in all three Maghreb countries; from the mid-1970s until the early 1990s Algerian emigration levelled off while emigration from neighbouring countries’ remained high; and since the 1990s Moroccan emigration increased exponentially while flows from Tunisia and Algeria grew only moderately. Periods of convergence can be explained by the similar socio-economic and geo-political developments of Maghreb countries, as well as by immigration policies of destination states.

To understand observed divergences however, a closer look at the origin state is required. The paper finds that Algeria’s departure from regional emigration patterns in the 1970s can be traced back to the emigration stop implemented by the Algerian government in 1973. Conversely, the active promotion of emigration by the Moroccan state contributed to fostering a culture of emigration that together with high unemployment partly explains Morocco’s emigration boom after the 1990s. Finally, the recent diversification of Maghreb emigration to different South European countries can be attributed to specific historical linkages, with Moroccans and Algerians mainly migrating to Spain and Tunisians to Italy. By paying particular attention to the role of origin countries and analysing Maghreb states’ attitudes towards emigration over the past fifty years, the paper shows that Maghreb emigration was continuously shaped not only by governmental strategies elaborated in Paris, Amsterdam, or Madrid, but also by those designed in Rabat, Tunis, and Algiers.


Social networks and the intention to migrate

Sultan Orazbayev and Miriam Manchin (University College London)

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Using a large survey spanning several years and more than 150 countries, this paper looks at the role of different types of social networks for international and domestic migration intentions. In particular, we look at the impact of close social networks (composed of friends and family) with and without remittances and broad social networks (composed of same-country residents with intention to migrate), both at home and abroad. In addition, we also control for satisfaction with amenities, work-related factors, wealth, and other individual-related factors. We find that close and broad social networks abroad are the most important driving forces of international migration intention, and broad local social networks are the most important factor for internal migration intention. On the other hand, close networks at the current location reduce the likelihood of the intention to migrate, albeit their importance is much lower, especially for international migration intention.

Where on Earth is everybody? Deciphering the big picture of migration from microdata

Çaglar Özden (World Bank) CONFERENCE KEYNOTE

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Between a rock and a hard place: An exploration of Romanians' in-between lives

Claudia Paraschivescu (University of Leeds)

Romanian migrants are a much maligned group in the European Union. This has implications on their attachments to the sending and receiving countries and the extent to which they consider themselves members of both societies. This paper aims to fill a gap in the scholarship of belonging which overlooks the affective dimension of migrants' belonging. The argument evolved out of my empirical research carried out on first generation Romanians in London and Paris, although the illustrative material used in this section is drawn from the Paris component of the research project. This paper argues that fixed categories of belonging such as multiple belongings or belonging to either one or the other society do not accurately capture the ambivalence migrants often experience as a result of transnational migration. Drawing on 39 in-depth semi-structured interviews, this paper investigates Romanians’ stories of belonging in Paris. The scholarship engaging with first generation migrants’ conflicting experiences and affective ties has investigated the concept of in-betweeness as a ‘one fits all’ characteristic for those migrants who seem to experience affective turmoil and question their attachments, without looking into the depth of it. This paper aims to unpack the plural and ambiguous emotional attachments Romanians develop as a result of transnational migration. As a result, the focus is on those Romanians who seem to experience various dimensions of ‘in-betweeness’ represented by the space of ambivalence inhabited by those excluded from forms of belonging.

A 'soft-migration' approach to overseas resettlement: 'Home and host' experiences, opportunities and challenges among Korean residents in New Zealand

Hong-Jae Park (University of Auckland)

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As global connectivity continues to rise, human migration is becoming less constrained by geographical distance, language barriers, and cultural differences. New migration in the digital age raises critical questions about how traditional understandings of human migration are applicable to the reality the world experiences today. This paper presents an in-depth analysis of the findings from three research studies on Korean migration and diaspora in New Zealand. Based on empirical evidence from those serial studies with more than 150 Korean residents, this paper highlights emerging aspects of present-day Korean migration and diaspora, and the impacts of such changes on populations and societies in the digital age.

Korean diaspora and migrant communities in New Zealand are diverse, flexible, and inherently associated with advanced technologies physically and virtually. The supranational development of information technologies and social media has facilitated the growing mobility of those people, reshaping traditional routines and offering new path for migration across borders. The main features of present-day Korean migration and diaspora include soft-landing relocation, a sense of double presence or belonging, fluid acculturation, and virtual identity formation, with the prevalence of return migration and potential re-migration to a third nation. The emergence of this ‘soften’ migration is a significant social, economic and political issue as it generates different patterns of social capital or problems to both sending and receiving countries. This human movement can also create new forms of social needs that affect people’s determination of migration and their resettlement across home and host societies.


Determinants of internal and international migration in rural Pakistan

Abdul Rehman (University of East Anglia)

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This essay provides an empirical analysis of the migration determinants for households located in Pakistan. We first study migration as a whole and then look at the more disaggregate version by distinguishing between domestic and international migration. On the snapshot of migration as a whole we detect an intriguing size-composition effect on the household’s probability of migration: the larger the household, the greater the probability of migration of one of its members. By contrast, the more dependants a household has (in terms of the number of children and young females), the less likely it is to have a migrant member. This latter relationship is by and large true for both types of migration – internal and international. Also, we find the probability of migration to be inversely related to the pre-migration initial (as observed at the beginning of the study period) landholding of the household. A one-acre decrease in landholding results in 11 per cent increase in the likelihood a member of the household migrates internationally, relative to the base case of no migration. On the other hand, the landholding effect is small for internal migration (1.3 per cent). This result from the empirical model confirms that households tend to deplete their landholding to jump the hurdle of international migration, but not so to migrate within the country. This finding is consistent with similar studies for other countries. The insight of this analysis can be useful in designing public policies. Government should facilitate greater movement of labour by contributing towards the cost of migration. Furthermore, a rural credit market should be developed so that people can get affordable loans without having to sell land, which are vital assets for survival in rural areas.

Return migration in the post-conflict context

Sonja Fransen (Maastricht University), Isabel Ruiz (University of Oxford) and Carlos Vargas-Silva (University of Oxford

This paper studies the economic impacts of ‘return migration’ in a post-conflict setting. The theoretical model illustrates that migration in situations of conflict and post-conflict return can lead to different outcomes from those predicted in the non-conflict context. These include differences in outcomes related to economic activities, income and wealth. We look at the evidence using data from Burundi, a country which experienced a major civil conflict between 1993 and 2005. We use countrywide panel data collected by the researchers in 2011 and in 2015, i.e. 6 and 10 years after the end of the conflict. The survey has detailed information about economic activities of returnees and stayees (i.e. those who never left the country). It also has information on returnees’ economic activities before and during migration. Our preliminary results indicate that, compared to stayees, returnees are less likely to have non-farm self employment, more likely to have farm self employment, more likely to work as employees and they are willing to engage in more economic activities. The results also indicate that the retunee/non-returnee wealth gap has remained unchanged across time.


Understanding immobility: Exploring the relationship between migration aspirations and the capacity to aspire

Kerilyn Schewel (University of Amsterdam)

The vast majority of the world’s population do not migrate, yet migration studies tend to focus exclusively on the determinants and outcomes of mobility. This paper argues that grappling with the question of immobility is crucial to efforts to re-conceptualise migration as an intrinsic part of broader processes of social transformation. I proceed with this task by, first, reviewing and evaluating various explanations for why people do not migrate, distinguishing between the aspiration and the ability to do so (cf Carling 2002). Then, drawing on empirical data from the Eumagine project in Senegal, I consider one explanation in particular depth: the notion that those who do not aspire to migrate may lack the 'capacity to aspire'. The concept of a capacity to aspire is emerging in conversations in both migration and development studies, and it is often identified with aspirations for greater wealth. Drawing on the Senegalese case, I challenge the potential conflation of migration aspirations with the capacity to aspire by showing that, in the context of widespread migration aspirations, the capacity to aspire may find expression in the aspiration to stay.

The dynamics of 'here' and 'there' among three transnational ethnic communities in New Malden, London

HaeRan Shin (Seoul National University)

This paper looks at how three groups of ethnic Koreans – Joseonjok (Korean Chinese), South Korean, and North Korean – transnational migrants negotiate the territoriality of transnationalism in a receiving community, that of New Malden, London. It draws upon mixed ethnographic methods to investigate how these transnational migrants have developed the sense of the destination society and the home society, relying on, discriminating, competing with, conflicting with, and adapting to each other. The paper contributes to the debates on the geography of transnationalism by asking where ‘here’ and ‘there’ in the transnationalism expression, ‘I am here (the destination) and there (the home)’ have become. Based on empirical findings, the research demonstrates, first, a concept, 'extended there' that includes where immigrants have lived as well as their home country. As their mobilities are multiple and their aspire to South Korea, the scope of their ‘there’ went beyond their home country, especially among established and second generation migrants. Second, the research suggests the concept of ‘enclaved transnationalism,’ which refers to the practices of transnationalism that occur within an ethnic enclave. Transnational migrants living in such enclaved circumstances develop transnationalism and assimilation simultaneously where they live, that is, within a relatively bounded segment the multicultural society composed of people to whom they are ethnically similar. Third, there was continued reproduction of differences in the enclave. Despite the daily encounter among the three groups, continued ethnic sedimentation took place based on ethnic organisations such as ethnic churches and ethnic associations.

Labour market changes and human capital investment: Evidence from migration boom in Nepal

Rashesh Shrestha (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Education is an important determinant of long-term economic and social development, and many developing countries’ policies are aimed at increasing schooling. The success of these policies partly depends on accessibility of high-skilled jobs relative to low-skilled jobs. The 'human capital' view of educational choice implies that, by lowering the rate of return to education and increasing opportunity cost of staying in school, an abundance of low-skilled jobs reduces schooling. One source of low-skilled job growth in Nepal is temporary labour migration (TLM). Since 2000, migration to the resource-abundant Gulf countries on short-term contracts represents the most lucrative employment option for many young Nepali men. Since most of these jobs do not require much schooling, TLM could negatively impact schooling decisions.

This paper estimates the extent to which TLM reduced schooling in Nepal. Utilising Nepal Census 2011 data and Instrumental Variables method to account for endogeneity of migration, I estimate the causal impact of greater migration opportunities by comparing schooling attainment across villages with different TLM rates. I find that a one percentage point increase in village-level migration rate reduced likelihood of upper secondary school by 3.6 per cent. This demonstrates that TLM could reduce long term economic growth due to its negative impact on schooling, thus drawing attention to a possible trade-off between short-term poverty alleviation and long-term impacts of TLM. Another implication for developing countries with high migration rates is that any policy aimed at improving schooling should take into account incentives created by migration opportunities. Further, this study expands the literature on migration by highlighting the influence of community-level migration on individual decisions.

Migrant integration and transnational linkages: Using a human security framing to move beyond nationalist presumptions

Giulia Sinatti (VU University Amsterdam) and Des Gasper (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

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Increased cultural diversity in our societies raises concerns about people’s political loyalties and democratic values. Immigration easily becomes depicted as a threat to national security and national identity. Research on the relationship between immigrant integration and transnational ties frequently responds to these public opinion concerns, but sometimes results in querying the nationalist assumption that more transnational links means less local integration. However, research on integration and transnationalism often uses essentialist understandings of identity, belonging and loyalty, linked to an assumption that migrants experience a duality between place of origin and place of residence. It suffers from the methodological nationalist presumption that all analysis – including of identity – should proceed in terms of nationally bounded categories. As a result, the conceptualisations of integration and transnationalism reproduce, rather than add understanding to, the traditional nation-building agendas of states, with integration understood only as migrants’ fitting into existing societal structures. Human security analysis can help provide a less simplified, homogenised and passive picture of migrants, and of other actors; it helps to appropriately complicate, diversify and dynamise the picture, guiding attention to complex specificities and flux of people’s lives, as well as to how identities and differences can become socially constructed as security concerns.


Understanding processes of political change and migration: Agency, desires, capacities and structures

Marieke van Houte (University of Oxford)

In this paper, I propose an analytical framework to study the dual relationship between migration and political change, addressing a two-fold question: what are the consequences of political developments on migration and transnational engagement, and what are the consequences of migration and transnational engagement on politics in the country of origin? I first address the issues that underly this debate and introduce the theoretical building blocks with which I want to address these issues. I then integrate these building blocks into an innovative analytical framework that can be used to study the link between migration and change, and apply it on the political dimension. The framework has three major analytical benefits. First, it allows us to analytically disentangle the different dimensions of the political space, but also to study the process by which migrants become active agents of change, rather than essentialising this as fixed or static. Second, the cyclical structure of the framework gives room for the observation that agency and change are dynamic processes that are both steered from below and from above in an interactive process. Third, the interactions in the framework allow to understand the heterogeneity of mechanisms and outcomes of migration-induced change. It highlights that migration-induced change is not necessarily democratisation and not always for the better. Moreover, while none of the insights described in this framework are really new, the innovatineness is that it connects a range of previously unconnected literature. I conclude with a research agenda for quantitative and qualitative research, using this framework.


Marriage migration in Britain: A gender perspective

Elena Valentina Zonca (University of Trieste)

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Recent developments in regulations on spousal family reunification in the UK show a progressive restriction of the possibilities of family life for migrants and ethnic minorities. Such developments may be seen as a reaction to questions such as marriages of convenience and gender-based violence as well as to practices associated with some migrant communities including polygamy and forced marriage. British policy makers have gradually established quite severe requirements for spousal family reunification, including limits related to minimum age, income, housing standards and language proficiency. Also, restrictions have been placed on spousal settlement in the UK. My paper explores these issues from a gender perspective. The 'gender' angle on the issue of spousal migration allows us to unpack the relationship between gender, as a crucial way of signifying a relationship of power, and immigration as an issue where the State holds real power. I will combine legal analysis with a race and gender perspective and use an interdisciplinary approach. I will argue that the engagement of political actors in family migration risks becoming a way of instrumentalising gender in order to further restrict immigration policies. On the one hand, legal provisions on marriage migration claim to act on behalf of migrant women to protect gender equality and ensure integration. In fact, they risk weakening migrant women’s rights and their chances of achieving an active citizenship status, for instance by not considering them as active agents and guaranteeing an independent permit of stay.