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A new article by Mathias Czaika and Hein de Haas elaborates a conceptual framework for assessing the effectiveness of immigration policies.

The article ‘The Effectiveness of Immigration Policies’ by IMI senior research officer Mathias Czaika, and IMI co-director Hein de Haas is published in the September issue of Population and Development Review and has been written as part of the ERC-funded DEMIG (Determinants of International Migration) project.

Czaika and de Haas argue that public and academic controversy over the effectiveness of immigration policies is largely spurious due to the fuzzy definitions and frequent confusion between policy discourses, policies on paper, policy implementation, and policy impacts.

There is a considerable gap between politicians’ discourse and actual policies. As discourses are often set as the benchmark to evaluate the effectiveness of migration policies, this can easily lead to an overestimation of ‘policy failure’.

Based on an assessment of available empirical studies, the authors argue that while policies significantly affect migration flows, their relative importance compared with other migration determinants seems limited.  Policy restrictions may also have unintended ‘substitution’ effects such as through category jumping, geographical diversion and ‘beat the ban rushes’.

However, evidence on such effects is still scarce, showing the need for more empirically informed insights about the short and long term effects of migration policies, a gap that the DEMIG project aims to fill.