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Migration research offers abundant research and theories to describe and explain why migration flows, once started, appear to have an inherent tendency to grow, but offers few insights into why established migration corridors may also decline. This paper focuses on an empirical example of declining migration: migration from Morocco to the Netherlands. Although the Netherlands accommodates a large Moroccan immigrant community, formed by former guest workers who arrived from the mid-1960s onwards and their offspring, immigration from Morocco to the Netherlands has been diminishing steadily since the mid-1990s. This paper explains this declining migration with the concept of diminutive causation, the counterpart of the concept of cumulative causation (Massey, 1990). Diminutive causation also entails a longitudinal multi-level explanation with interconnected macro, meso and micro-factors. We analyse in particular the strategic role played by individual migrants and their networks in reducing immigration. Three aspects are examined: first, changing beliefs of migrants in the Netherlands; second, migration-undermining feedback provided by migrants to prospective migrants; and third, the changing nature of migration cultures and migratory aspirations in Morocco due to the migration-undermining feedback by migrants.



Working paper


International Migration Institute

Publication Date




Total pages



migration, Morocco, the Netherlands, diminutive causation