- Natter, Katharina (2020). “Crafting a ‘Liberal Monarchy’: Regime Consolidation and Immigration Policy Reform in Morocco.” The Journal of North African Studies, 1-25.
This paper demonstrates that Moroccan immigration policymaking is intrinsically tied to the monarchy’s authoritarian consolidation agenda. Drawing on archival research and 87 semi-structured interviews conducted between 2011 and 2017 with Moroccan high-level civil servants, international and national civil society representatives, the paper dissects power dynamics among state and societal actors involved in Morocco’s 2013 immigration reform. The analysis shows that immigration policy liberalisation not only emerged out of Morocco’s autocratic political structures – a dynamic I call the ‘illiberal paradox’ – but at the same time consolidated them. In particular, the Moroccan monarchy used the 2013 ‘liberal’ immigration reform to pursue three interrelated goals: (1) to perform Morocco’s human rights commitment on the world stage and the regime’s responsiveness to domestic pressure for political reform, (2) to consolidate the monarchical institution within Morocco’s state apparatus and (3) to (at least partially) co-opt Moroccan civil society for humanitarian migration management, thereby silencing dissent in other arenas. At the same time, however, the analysis reveals that the regime consolidation strategy and the King’s portrayal as a ‘liberal’ monarch did not cancel out deeply rooted dynamics among and between state and civil society actors, which required both sides to adapt their cooperation or resistance strategies. Ultimately, the paper showcases that immigration politics reflect the power dynamics within and the legitimation strategies of the Moroccan monarchy. Immigration policy research thus offers a privileged vantage point from which to analyse broader political regime dynamics.
- Natter, Katharina, Mathias Czaika & Hein de Haas (2020). “Political party ideology and immigration policy reform: an empirical enquiry.” Political Research Exchange 2 (1).
What drives the restrictiveness of immigration reforms? To what extent does the political ideology of parties in government and parliament matter? Drawing on immigration policy data offering unprecedented historical and geographical coverage, we analyse the drivers of immigration reforms in 21 Western immigration countries between 1970 and 2012. Our results show that there is no robust effect of the political ideology of governments and parliaments on the overall restrictiveness of immigration reforms. Partisan effects are limited to certain migration policy areas, primarily to integration policies, and to certain migrant groups, particularly asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. In contrast, political party ideology does not fundamentally shape decisions on the core of immigration regimes, such as entry policies or policies towards labour and family migrants. Our findings also showcase the importance of international policy diffusion and of trade-offs between reforms in different policy areas. Overall, the analysis highlights that although immigration is subject to heated debates in the public sphere and extensive political bargaining, the actual policies enacted seem primarily driven by factors such as economic growth, social welfare protection and the structure of political systems that are largely independent of the political ideology of parties in power.
- de Haas, Hein, Mathias Czaika, Marie‐Laurence Flahaux, Edo Mahendra, Katharina Natter, Simona Vezzoli and María Villares‐Varela (2019). “International Migration: Trends, Determinants, and Policy Effects.” Population and Development Review 45(5):, 885-922.
This paper synthesizes insights from new global data on the effectiveness of migration policies. It investigates the complex links between migration policies and migration trends to disentangle policy effects from structural migration determinants. The analysis challenges two central assumptions underpinning the popular idea that migration restrictions have failed to curb migration. First, post‐WWII global migration levels have not accelerated, but remained relatively stable while most shifts in migration patterns have been directional. Second, post‐WWII migration policies have generally liberalized despite political rhetoric suggesting the contrary. While migration policies are generally effective, “substitution effects” can limit their effectiveness, or even make them counterproductive, by geographically diverting migration, interrupting circulation, encouraging unauthorized migration, or prompting “now or never” migration surges. These effects expose fundamental policy dilemmas and highlight the importance of understanding the economic, social, and political trends that shape migration in sometimes counterintuitive, but powerful, ways that largely lie beyond the reach of migration policies.
- Adger, Neil, Emily Boyd, Anita Fabos, Sonja Fransen, Dominique Jolivet, George Neville, Ricardo Safra de Campos, & Marjanneke Vijge. (2019). “Migration transforms the conditions for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Lancet Planetary Health 3(11), 440-442.
Migration is transformative both for those who move and for the places and economies of source and destination. The global stock of migrants, depending on definition, is approximately 750 million people: to assume that the world is static and that migration is a problem to be managed is inaccurate. Since migration is a major driving force of planetary and population health, this working paper argues that it must be more directly incorporated into planning for sustainable development, with a focus on the extent and way in which the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) incorporate the transformative reality of migration.
- Natter, Katharina (2018). “Rethinking Immigration Policy Theory Beyond ‘Western Liberal Democracies’.” Comparative Migration Studies 6 (1), 1-21.
How do political systems shape immigration policy-making? Explicitly or implicitly, comparative politics and migration policy theories suggest a ‘regime effect’ that links specific dynamics of immigration policy to liberal democracy. The literature’s dominant focus on so-called ‘Western liberal democracies’, however, has left the ‘regime effect’ largely untested and research on variations and similarities in immigration policymaking across political systems strikingly undertheorized. This paper challenges the theoretical usefulness of essentialist, dichotomous categories such as Western/non-Western or democratic/autocratic and calls for a more nuanced theorizing of immigration policy-making. It proposes a two-dimensional classification of immigration policy theories, distinguishing between ‘issue-specific’ theories that capture immigration policy processes regardless of the political system in place and ‘regime-specific’ theories whose insights are tied to the characteristics of a political system. The paper also advances the ‘illiberal paradox’ hypothesis to explain why illiberal, autocratic states may enact liberal immigration policies. This theoretical expansion beyond the ‘Western’ and ‘liberal’ bubble is illustrated by an analysis of immigration policy-making in 21st century Morocco and Tunisia. Showing how domestic and international institutions, interests, and ideas shape immigration policy-making in Morocco’s monarchy and Tunisia’s democratic transition, the paper investigates the broader role of political systems in immigration politics and herewith seeks to contribute to a more general and global theorization of immigration policies.
- Schewel, Kerilyn. (2019). “Understanding Immobility: Moving Beyond the Mobility Bias in Migration Studies.” International Migration Review.
This article suggests that there is a mobility bias in migration research: by focusing on the “drivers” of migration — the forces that lead to the initiation and perpetuation of migration flows — migration theories neglect the countervailing structural and personal forces that restrict or resist these drivers and lead to different immobility outcomes. To advance a research agenda on immobility, it offers a definition of immobility, further develops the aspiration-capability framework as an analytical tool for exploring the determinants of different forms of (im)mobility, synthesizes decades of interdisciplinary research to help explain why people do not migrate or desire to migrate, and considers future directions for further qualitative and quantitative research on immobility.
- Schewel, Kerilyn. (2019). “Moved by Modernity: How Development Shapes Migration in Rural Ethiopia.” Department of Sociology, University of Amsterdam.
This dissertation examines how the social transformations associated with ‘development’ over the last century impacted the migration and settlement behavior of a traditionally semi-nomadic people in the central lowlands of the Ethiopian Rift Valley. Utilizing original survey data, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic methods, it examines two (im)mobility transitions: 1) from semi-nomadic pastoralism into settled agriculture, and 2) from rural agriculture into more mobile, urban-centric lives. To explain these transitions, the dissertation evalu- ates the impacts of different dimensions of social change – the political, economic, demographic, cultural and technological – on migration aspirations and behavior over time. This research finds that, first, the sedentarization of semi-nomadic lifestyles was an integral part of modern nation-state building in Ethiopia. This settlement set the foundation upon which new forms of rural-urban and international migration would later emerge. Second, it f inds that rural out-migration among younger generations – whether to neighboring towns or to the Middle East – is driven by rising access to formal education, growing rural-urban connectivity, and the expan- sion of market forces. It shows why ‘development’ tends to stimulate a widening aspiration-opportunity gap for rural youth; aspirations are increasingly oriented towards urban futures, which cannot be realized in rural areas and thus require migration to achieve. Nevertheless, many still remain in rural areas, lacking the capability to leave. These findings challenge popular ideas that development aid can reduce the ‘root causes’ of migration by showing why development, in its current practice, is the root cause of much contemporary migration.
- Carling, Jørgen, and Kerilyn Schewel. (2018). “Revisiting Aspiration and Ability in International Migration.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44 (6): 945-963.
It is a refreshingly simple thought that migration is the combined result of two factors: the aspiration to migrate and the ability to migrate. Without having to resort to overly structural or individualistic explanations, this analytical distinction helps disentangle complex questions around why some people migrate but others do not. Still, aspiration and ability raise their own thorny theoretical and methodological questions. To begin with, what does it mean to have migration aspirations? How can such concepts be objects of empirical research? And is it meaningful to say that individuals possess the ability to migrate if their preference is to stay? The aspiration/ability model was originally proposed in this journal and has since been diversely applied and adapted. In this article, we look back at more than a decade of research to examine a series of theoretical and empirical developments related to the aspiration/ability model and its extensions. We identify two-step approaches as a class of analytical frameworks that share the basic logic of the aspiration/ability model. Covering expansive theoretical, methodological and empirical ground, we seek to lay a foundation for new research on global migration in its diverse forms.
- Schewel, Kerilyn, and Sonja Fransen. (2018). “Formal Education and Migration Aspirations in Ethiopia.” Population and Development Review 44 (3): 555-587.
This paper asks where young people in Ethiopia envision their futures and how the experience of formal education shapes the desire to live elsewhere. Unique in its ability to reveal gradients of internal and international migration aspirations, the Young Lives data shows that most youth aspire to an urban future within Ethiopia, and that these aspirations are shaped at the level of primary and secondary schooling. For a country where some 80 percent of the population still live in rural areas, the overwhelmingly urban aspirations of young people surveyed in this study are striking.
- Schewel, Kerilyn. (2018). “Ziway or Dubai: Can Flower Farms in Ethiopia Reduce Migration to the Middle East?.” IOM Migration Research Series (55): 2-14.
This publication in the IOM Migration Research Series explores the aspirations, opportunities and constraints young women navigate as they transition into adulthood, and the rationale behind a decision to migrate as a domestic worker. Based on an in-depth study of the migration decision-making of young women in one rural district of Oromia, Ethiopia, it shows how migration to the Middle East is one way to avoid an early marriage and to access capital otherwise unavailable to low-skilled women in Ethiopia. It then evaluates work opportunities at one Dutch-owned flower farm in the same district, and shows why these jobs will not necessarily act as a substitute to international migration.
IMI Working Papers
- Jolivet, Dominique. (2020). “Welfare and Migration: Unfulfilled Aspirations to “Have Rights” in the South- Moroccan Todgha Valley” IMI Working Paper Series no. 170. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 19.
This paper examines how migration is influenced by changing ideas about welfare provisions and how communities envision the role of the state as welfare provider. It does so through a case study of the Todgha Valley, an oasis in South Morocco where, after 60 years of migration history, a culture of migration emerged. The paper explores the meso- and macrolevel political and cultural transformations that shaped the valley’s welfare-related cultural repertoires and explain the changing ways in which welfare provisions drive migration over time in a particular place. To probe such transformations, the paper combines three theoretical components: Inglehart’s postmaterialism theory, the social transformations framework, and Zelinsky’s mobility transition theory. The paper draws on a literature review, empirical qualitative and quantitative data collected over 22 years, and secondary data. It shows that the meaning of migration has changed over time and is currently understood as a possible remedy to persistently unfulfilled aspirations to have rights. The paper contributes to debates on the links between welfare and migration in two ways. First, it broadens the scope of analysis of welfare as a driver of migration. Second, it highlights how migration feedbacks and changes in welfare policies shape perceptions and expectations of how much the state should provide. Migration tends to be a more individualistic and longer-term project than in the past, and intrinsic aspirations to access social rights have become more explicit. The paper also shows that once cultures of migration emerge, they are not fixed even if they persist; the underlying forces sustaining migration aspirations might shift with other social transformations and more cyclical changes.
- Wielstra, Albertus Sikke Jan. (2020). “Migration and Social Transformation in a Small Frisian Town: The Case of Bolsward, the Netherlands” IMI Working Paper Series no. 169. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 18.
This paper explores processes of migration to and from Bolsward – a small agro-industrial town in the Dutch province of Friesland – with an emphasis on the post-WWII period. While prewar patterns of in- and out-migration were primarily intra-provincial, after 1945 migration became increasingly inter-provincial and, to some extent, international. Out-migrants from Bolsward were partly replaced by unskilled agricultural labourers from surrounding rural areas who lost their employment through agricultural mechanisation and found work in the growing industrial and construction sectors in town. When that labour supply dried up during the 1960s, this led to the recruitment of Turkish ‘guestworkers’. From the late 1950s, a second type of in- migrant, belonging to a high-skilled, often non-Frisian professional class, migrated to Bolsward to fill positions in local government and education. Four interacting social transformation processes explain these changing migration patterns: (1) industrialisation, (2) agricultural mechanisation, (3) state/educational expansion and (4) a broader change in life aspirations and ideas of the ‘good life’. Because of a process of replacement migration from Bolsward’s rural hinterlands, out-migration did not lead to population decline. Concurrently, new economic and educational opportunities arose that matched the life aspirations of town dwellers and agricultural workers from the hinterlands, giving rise to an increase in ‘voluntary immobility’ from the 1960s onwards. This case study highlights the vital ‘linking’ role that small towns and rural areas play in the hierarchical, multi-layered geographical structure of migration systems. It shows that much out-migration from rural areas is directed not to big cities but, rather, to smaller urban areas located in their direct vicinity and that migration from such rural towns is often directed to medium-sized urban settlements rather than to big cities. The analysis also shows that social transformation does not necessarily lead to large-scale out-migration when local opportunities expand simultaneously.
- Osburg, Mathis (2020) “State Expansion, Mobility and the Aspiration to Stay in Western French Guiana” IMI Working Paper Series no. 168. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 17.
This paper explores how processes of social transformation since the 1980s have impacted on mobility patterns and migration aspirations in Western French Guiana. The French state showed little interest in the development of this scarcely populated region until the arrival of refugees during Suriname’s War of the Interior (1986–1991), which triggered rapid population growth and pressed the state to provide services. With the expansion of formal education, young people’s life aspirations shifted away from rural economic activities and were increasingly mismatched with locally available opportunities. In line with mobility transition theories, these social transformations diversified and expanded mobility patterns: whereas grandparents relied on short-term circular mobility along the Maroni river to perform agricultural activities in the region’s interior, today’s young people engage in permanent rural-urban and overseas migration in order to access educational facilities and economic opportunities. Despite these ‘instrumental’ aspirations for migration, the analysis of 31 interviews revealed that young people have an ‘intrinsic’ preference to stay in Western French Guiana. Many remain closely attached to their familiar socio-cultural environment and families; at the same time, the French state provides basic economic stability which facilitates staying – e.g. through paid professional training and social benefits. In fact, young people find themselves in a situation of ‘in-betweenness’. They cannot achieve their life aspirations locally but do not aspire to migrate. This finding shows that migration aspirations do not automatically increase with levels of ‘development’. Instead, this paper highlights the ambiguous effects of developmental processes, especially state expansion, on people’s migration aspirations.
- de Haas, Hein, Sonja Fransen, Katharina Natter, Kerilyn Schewel, and Simona Vezzoli. (2020). “Social Transformation” IMI Working Paper Series no. 166. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 16.
Over centuries past, human societies have been through fundamental changes often defined as ‘modernisation’. Despite huge advances in knowledge, social science has struggled to conceptualise the nature of these changes and to integrate insights from across different disciplines into a single framework. Disciplinary fragmentation and methodological parochialism as well as a postmodern aversion to ‘grand theory’ have impeded theoretical synthesis. To overcome this impasse, we introduce social transformation as a meta-theoretical conceptual framework for studying ‘big change’. Defining social transformation as a fundamental change in the way that societies are organised and resources are distributed, we distinguish five interconnected dimensions – the political, the economic, the technological, the demographic and the cultural – which together constitute the ‘social realm’. Studied simultaneously, these dimensions are able to capture ‘big change’ in its universal aspects while keeping sight of the diversity of its concrete manifestations. We apply this framework to explore how the ‘modern transformation’ has reshaped societies and to show how the interplay of the various political, economic, technological, demographic and cultural transitions have transformed social life around the globe in strikingly similar ways – notwithstanding the varied, unique ways in which this ‘modern transformation’ has concretely manifested itself across societies and over different periods.
- Rodriguez-Pena, Naiara. (2020). “State expansion, development imaginaries and mobility in a peripheral frontier: the case of Caracaraí, Brazil.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 165. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 15.
This article examines social transformation and mobility dynamics in Caracaraí, a rural frontier town in the State of Roraima, Brazil, from the 1950s to the 1990s. During this short period, we observe a rapid diversification of migration in Caracaraí: from non-migratory mobility tied to the micro-scale extraction of local products to more-permanent settlement in town, rapid shifts in the direction of internal migration patterns and back to non-migratory mobility patterns again. Drawing from frontier migration studies and mobility transition theories, this paper adopts a social transformation perspective to explore the relation between social change and these mobility transitions. The changing role of the state, from a promoter of infrastructure to a provider of services and public employment, the restructuring of the local economic fabric and its reorientation towards more secondary and tertiary activities, and inhabitants’ imaginaries of the development potential of Caracaraí all explain the shift in migration processes. Investigating these processes, we observe that (i) the state promoted new opportunities, leading to a decline in traditional circular mobility, alongside the growth of temporal workers and spontaneous migrants; (ii) infrastructure advancements encouraged non-migratory mobility patterns between Caracaraí and Boa Vista, the capital city of the State of Roraima; (iii) the provision of public employment intensified internal rural-urban and urban-rural migration patterns, from communities in the interior of the State of Roraima to Caracaraí and vice versa, and (iv) development imaginaries – the perception of how Caracaraí should and could be in the near future – prevented voluminous emigration, during periods of socio-economic slowdown. This research highlights the meaningful role of the state in altering livelihoods and migration decision-making processes. In particular, it shows how state expansion framed cultural imaginaries of the ‘good life’, favouring the desire to stay put in periods of high economic uncertainty, even when life aspirations were not being met by local opportunities.
- Vezzoli, Simona. (2020). “Social Transformation, Resistance and Migration in the Italian Peninsula over the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 164. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 14.
This paper studies the evolution of internal and international migration in Italy over the mid-nineteenth to the late-twentieth centuries. Notwithstanding Italy’s large international emigration flows, most Italian migration has been inter-regional, with rural-rural, rural-urban and urban-urban migration systems expanding in geographical scope and complexity over time. This paper analyses the interplay between internal and international migration, revealing four distinct patterns of (i) regions where internal migration always dominated and that turned into the destinations of internal migrants in the early-nineteenth century; (ii) regions that were initially characterised by strong international emigration before evolving into important destinations for internal migrants, (iii) regions that transitioned gradually from sources of to destinations for international and internal migrants and (iv) regions that largely remained sources of international and internal migration. Overall, these patterns reflect Italy’s social transformation from a feudal system in agricultural production to a modern welfare state with an industrial economy, a transformation which affected regions in strikingly different ways. More specifically, these ways are linked to state (re)formation, urbanisation, the rise of agricultural and industrial capitalism and the peripherisation of the South. These profound transformative processes altered the social structure and people’s livelihoods, engendering new opportunities in some regions and greater uncertainty in others. Rather than poverty, it was the combination of these transformative processes that encouraged many Italians to pursue migration. Because the social transformation unfolded unevenly across the Italian peninsula, it engendered inequalities and the (re)framing of central and more peripheral areas, which explains the different internal and international migration patterns.
- Muller-Funk, Lea, and Sonja Fransen. (2020). “Return aspirations and coerced return: A case study on Syrian refugees in Turkey and Lebanon.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 162. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 13.
This paper studies return aspirations and current return movements of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey and Lebanon to understand who aspires to return after the end of the war, and why and when refugees return with the conflict still ongoing. To do so, we embed future return aspirations into refugees’ broader life aspirations and study how these interact with perceived opportunities (capabilities) in the home and host countries in shaping those aspirations to return. Drawing on 757 survey interviews we present, first, quantitative analyses of the factors underlying current return reflections and future return aspirations. They differ significantly across individuals, and more refugees residing in Lebanon consider to return currently and in the future. Second, we analyse information from 41 in-depth interviews and show how life aspirations (i) are a crucial element in shaping return aspirations and (ii) interact particularly with social, professional and political aspects in home and host countries in shaping return aspirations. The paper also highlights that while most refugees retain a profound belief in return, there is a strong mismatch between aspiring to return and realising it. While return after the war’s end is driven by a wish to realise broader life goals, current return migration is driven by legal, medical and financial vulnerability, family obligations and discrimination in the host country.
- Schewel, Kerilyn, and Sonja Fransen. (2020). “Who aspires to stay? Immobility aspirations among youth in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 161. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 12.
This article studies immobility aspirations – or aspirations to stay – among individuals with high migration propensities (aged 16 to 23) in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. Assuming that aspirations to stay are not simply the absence of migration aspirations, we explore which individual and household factors determine who aspires to stay and why, using unique survey data collected for the Young Lives project. We find that the majority of young people surveyed – between 61 percent (Ethiopia) and 82 percent (Vietnam) – aspire to stay in their home country. Between 32 percent (Ethiopia) and 57 percent (Vietnam) of young people aspired to stay at their current location, meaning they aspired to move neither internally nor internationally. Across country contexts, aspirations to stay were most often highest among the poorest. Further, the desire to stay decreases with higher levels of education, which suggests that widening access to formal schooling is an important driver of internal and international migration aspirations. Finally, respondents most often mentioned family-related reasons as the main motivation to stay in place. These findings contribute to a broader debate about the relationship between development and migration by challenging the linear relationship between poverty levels and migration aspirations that conventional migration theories implicitly or explicitly assume. Moreover, our findings on family reasons driving the aspiration to stay highlight the importance of non-economic factors in migration decision-making.
- Schewel, Kerilyn. (2020). “Migration, Development and the Urbanization of the Good Life: Mobility Transitions in Rural Ethiopia.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 159. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 11.
This paper examines how Ethiopia’s “development” over the last century impacted the mobility patterns of a traditionally seminomadic peoples in the central lowlands of Oromia. Using original survey data, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic methods, this research uncovers how, within just four generations, one village experienced two mobility transitions: from seminomadic pastoralism into settled agriculture, and then from rural agriculture into more mobile, urban-centric lives. To explain these transitions, this paper advances a social transformation framework to explore how different dimensions of social change — the political, economic, demographic, technological, and cultural — impact aspirations and capabilities to migrate or stay. It finds, first, that the sedentarisation of seminomadic lifestyles was an integral part of modern nation-state building in Ethiopia. The integration of this once peripheral region into a centralised, hierarchical state disrupted traditional patterns of socioeconomic organisation with the effect of tying people to places. Second, it finds that rural out-migration among younger generations — whether to neighbouring towns or to the Middle East — is primarily driven by rising access to formal education, growing rural-urban connectivity, and the expansion of the market economy. In Ethiopia, where most analyses of rural out-migration focus on the factors that “force” young people to abandon agriculture and rural lives, this case study shows why rising rural out-migration is part and parcel of “development” as it is practiced today. Rather than alleviating the need to migrate, this research suggests that development often creates the need to migrate.
- Vezzoli, Simona. (2020). “State Expansion, Changing Aspirations and Migration: The Case of Cisternino, Southern Italy.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 158. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 10.
This paper examines the social transformation processes that led to a mobility transition in Cisternino, a small agricultural town in Southern Italy. This transition entailed a shift from seasonal regional mobility in the 1940s to migration towards long-distance national and international destinations from the 1950s and to regional commuting and return migration from the 1970s. Building on mobility transition theories and the social transformation framework, the analysis examines the relation between the profound social change that affected this small agricultural town in the post-World War II period and shifts in migration. A combination of three broad processes explains the changing migration patterns: the expansion and consolidation of the state, the reshaping of the local economy and cultural transitions. By analysing the interplay and sequencing of these processes, we observe that, firstly, long-distance migration initially increased largely in reaction to deep cultural and political-economic shifts that altered local livelihoods; however, long-distance migration subsequently decreased as it was substituted by commuting in association with local economic growth and the expansion of state-driven sectors and safety net provisions that bore fruit in the 1960s. The article reveals the powerful and varied ways in which, in crucial moments of transition, the state affects local livelihoods and the population’s decision to either adapt locally or migrate.
- De Haas, Hein. (2019). “Paradoxes of Migration and Development.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 157. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 9.
This paper argues why and how migration should be conceptualised as an intrinsic part of broader processes of development and social change instead of as the antithesis of development, as dominant discourses hold. When societies go through the various economic, cultural, technological, political and demographic transitions associated with ‘development’, this leads to increasing levels of internal and international out-migration. Low-income societies generally have lower emigration levels because poverty tends to constrain people’s movements. Development leads to more instead of less migration because it increases people’s capabilities and aspirations to move. The paradox of development-driven emigration hikes shows the inability of conventional push–pull and neoclassical models to explain migration as well as the need for a new vision of migration as part of broader development. Migration is shaped by development in both origin and destination societies and also contributes to further change in its own right. However, the embeddedness of migration in broader processes of social transformation and development also means that its potential to affect structural change is fundamentally limited. This shows the logical fallacy of narratives that cast development as a ‘solution’ for perceived migration problems or that cast migration and remittances as panaceas with which to solve fundamental development problems.
- Fransen, Sonja and Hein de Haas. (2019). “The Volume and Geography of Forced Migration.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 156. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 8.
This paper studies the long-term evolution of global refugee migration, with a particular emphasis on the post-World War II period. We use the UNHCR Population Statistics Database to explore the intensity as well as the geographical spread and distance of refugee migrations at a global, regional, and country level between 1951 and 2018. The analyses refute the idea that there has been a substantial and linear increase in the intensity of global refugee migration. Moreover, problems with coverage and quality of earlier data give reason to think that levels of past refugee migration were underestimated. Apparent increases in the global number of displaced are mainly driven by the recent inclusion of other populations (such as the internally displaced and people in “refugee-like” situations) and countries that were previously excluded from statistics. Yet the analyses reveal several geographical shifts in refugee migration over the past decades. Refugees tend to come from a shrinking number of origin countries and go to an increasing number of destination countries. This trend reflects an overall long-term global decline in the levels of violent conflict and a concentration of recurrent conflict cycles in a few particular states. The average distance between origin and residence countries has increased over time, although the vast majority of refugees continue to stay near origin countries. Refugee populations continue to be concentrated in countries with low to medium GDP levels, and there has not been a major increase in South-North refugee migration.
- Schewel, Kerilyn, and Asmamaw Legass. (2019). “Migration and Social Transformation in Ethiopia.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 152. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 7.
This paper reviews key trends in migration patterns within and from Ethiopia over the last century, with a particular focus on 1960 onwards when more national-level data is available. It shows that both gradual and dramatic shifts characterize Ethiopia’s migration history. Regarding gradual shifts in the movement of populations within the country, Ethiopia shows a two-fold process of sedentarization of nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyles alongside a slow but steady urbanization of internal migration trajectories. Alongside this, rising levels of international migration have diversified in terms of the composition and destinations of Ethiopian emigrants. Ethiopia’s history also shows more punctuated and dramatic shifts in population movements over relatively short periods – a consequence of political conflict, famine, conscription, resettlement schemes, and/or development-induced displacement. At the same time that Ethiopians left their country in times of distress, Ethiopia was also an important destination for hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighboring countries in the Horn of Africa. This paper provides evidence for these trends, and considers how they relate to other processes of social change. In particular, it applies a social transformation framework to show how different dimensions of social change – the political, economic, cultural, technological and demographic – impacted population movements over time. We distinguish between ‘deep’ drivers of migration transitions (e.g. the expansion of formal education, infrastructure development and industrialization) and the (often) state-led policy interventions (and failures) that can suddenly affect the movements of large segments of the population (e.g. resettlement programs, development-induced displacement, political conflict, or famine). We ultimately argue that while migration driven by the latter can be addressed and mediated through policy-interventions, overarching migration transitions driven by the former are part and parcel of development strategies in the modern period, and are thus unlikely to be significantly affected by policies aimed at stemming migration’s ‘root causes.’
- De Haas, Hein, Simona Vezzoli and María Villares-Varela. (2019). “Opening the floodgates? European migration under restrictive and liberal border regimes 1950-2010” IMI Working Paper Series no. 150. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 6.
The effect of ‘open borders’ on migration has been the subject of substantial controversy. Political rhetoric and media images help stoke fear of uncontrolled mass migration that in turn fuels arguments in favour of tighter immigration regulations and border controls to ‘bring migration back under control’. In public debates, removing migration barriers is frequently portrayed as tantamount to ‘opening the floodgates’. However, immigration liberalisation may increase also circulation and return, rendering the effect on net migration theoretically ambiguous. Drawing on bilateral flow data over the 1959-2010 period contained in the DEMIG C2C database, this paper uses European Union (EU) enlargement as a case study to assess how liberalising border regimes affected migration flows. The analysis suggests that, with some exceptions, liberalisation boosted circulation rather than led to a structural increase in intra-EU migration. While removing migration barriers can lead to migration surges—particularly when economic gaps between origin and destination countries are large—these tend to be temporary, after which migration becomes more circular and tends to consolidate at lower levels. And while intra-regional circulation in the EU has grown, closing external EU borders has increasingly pushed non-EU migrants into permanent settlement along with significant family migration. These factors help to explain the structural rise in non-EU immigration, defying policy expectations that opening internal borders would decrease non-EU immigration.
- Schewel, Kerilyn. (2018). “Why Ethiopian Women Go to the Middle East: An Aspiration-Capability Analysis of Migration Decision-Making.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 148. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 5.
This paper examines why young women in one rural region of Ethiopia make the decision to migrate as domestic workers to the Middle East. Based on survey data and in-depth interviews, it examines the forces shaping aspirations and capabilities to migrate. In particular, the paper shows this migration can be reasonable and capabilities-enhancing for young women, while at the same time, a response to a critical lack of capabilities in other domains of their lives. The paper highlights why migration aspirations arise at a particular moment in the life-course, as adolescents transition into adulthood, and how migration aspirations relate to a broader set of capabilities young women have (or lack) to realize the lives they value (Sen 1999). These insights challenge the dominant narrative of trafficking, deception and victimization around this type of migration, while highlighting the usefulness of the aspiration-capability framework to analyze precarious forms of migration.
- Natter, Katharina. (2018). “Autocratic immigration policymaking: The illiberal paradox hypothesis.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 147. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Working Paper 4.
Open immigration policy changes are often cast as a feature of democracy and restrictive immigration policy changes as a feature of autocracy. This paper shows that the relationship between political regime type and immigration policy change is not as clear cut. Empirical evidence suggests that the substance of immigration policy change — in terms of openness or restrictiveness — does not significantly differ between democracies and autocracies. However, political regimes shape immigration policy dynamics, with autocracies having more leeway than democracies to open (or restrict) immigration according to their economic, geopolitical, or domestic priorities. Autocracies can more easily enact open immigration policy reforms compared to democracies if they wish to do so, a dynamic I call the ‘illiberal paradox’ and illustrate with empirical examples from across the globe. I also outline the limits of the autocratic openings on immigration, related to policy implementation, sudden policy backlashes and migrants’ integration rights. To move towards more global immigration policy theories, this paper suggests combining analyses that identify ideal types of democratic or autocratic immigration policymaking with studies of the nuances of real-life political practices. This would allow scholars to conceptualise immigration policy dynamics across the entire democracy-autocracy spectrum, for instance by capturing authoritarian practices within formal democracies and democratic practices within formal autocracies.
- Natter, Katharina. (2018). “Immigration Policy Theory: Thinking Beyond the ‘Western Liberal-Democratic’ Box.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 145. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 3.
Theories on immigration policy-making almost exclusively focus on ‘Western liberal democracies’. Explicitly or implicitly, they link specific dynamics of immigration policy to liberal democracy and herewith suggest a ‘regime effect’, leaving immigration policy-making in other political systems strikingly undertheorized. This paper challenges the theoretical usefulness of categorizing countries as Western/non-Western or democratic/autocratic and calls for a more nuanced theorizing of immigration policy. It asks: How do political systems shape immigration policy-making? Rather than offering alternative theories for ‘non-Western’ or ‘autocratic’ immigration policy-making, this paper proposes a two-dimensional classification of immigration policy theories. It distinguishes ‘issue-specific’ theories that capture immigration policy processes regardless of the political system in place from ‘regime-specific’ theories whose insights are tied to certain features of a political system. The paper also advances the ‘illiberal paradox’ hypothesis to account for the enactment of liberal immigration policies by illiberal, autocratic states. These theoretical reflections emerged through a confrontation of the existing theoretical literature with empirical insights on immigration policy-making in 21st century Morocco and Tunisia. Based on 110 semi-structured interviews conducted with political, institutional and civil society actors in both countries in 2016 and 2017, the paper illustrates how domestic and international institutions, interests, and ideas shaped immigration regimes in Morocco’s monarchy as opposed to Tunisia’s democratic transition. By expanding theories beyond the ‘Western liberal-democratic’ box and investigating the broader role of political systems in immigration politics, this paper hopes to provide some food for thought for a more global theorisation of immigration policy.
- Schewel, Kerilyn and Sonja Fransen. (2018). “Formal Education and Migration Aspirations in Ethiopia.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 144. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 2.
Expanding access to formal education is a universal aim of development policy worldwide, and young people today are gaining access to schooling on unprecedented levels. Taking Ethiopia as a case study, this paper explores the mobility impacts of increasing educational attainment. First, we analyse internal migration data for Ethiopia using national Labour Force Survey data, and find that that rural-to-urban migration has now replaced rural-to-rural migration as most common migration trajectory within Ethiopia. The pursuit of work and education were key motivations for rural-to-urban migration, and those with higher levels of education moved more. Second, we show how rising levels of primary and secondary education influence aspirations to migrate, distinguishing between internal and international destinations. Using novel survey data collected among rural and urban Ethiopian youth for the Young Lives project, we find that even completing primary levels of education increases the aspiration to live elsewhere. By studying the linkages between education and migration aspirations, alongside other development indicators like wealth, employment, and levels of self-efficacy, this paper contributes to an on-going debate about the relationship between development and migration and challenges common assumptions that migration is simply driven by poverty and need in poorer countries.
- De Haas, Hein and Sonja Fransen. (2018). “Social transformation and migration: An empirical inquiry.” IMI Working Paper Series no. 141. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. MADE Project Paper 1.
Drawing on global migration data covering the 1990-2010 period, this paper investigates the relation between processes of development and migration patterns. We do so by conducting bivariate and multivariate analyses which estimate how several economic, technological, political, demographic, and cultural dimensions of social transformation shape patterns of emigration and immigration in complex yet systematic ways, and generate a series of hypothesizes for future empirical analysis. The findings corroborate the idea that there is an inverted U-shaped relation between processes of development and emigration. This challenges push-pull models and confirms ‘transition theories,’ which hypothesize that development and social transformation initially tend to boost emigration. While the incidence of warfare increases emigration, there is no significant effect of the level of political freedom on emigration levels, while the level of authoritarianism affect immigration levels positively. The absence of an effect of the ‘youth bulge’ (estimated by the share of 15-35 year olds) on emigration and its positive effect on immigration defy push-pull models and Malthusian explanations of migration, and show that demographic factors only play an indirect role in migration processes. The analyses also yield a robustly negative effect of urbanization levels and urban growth on emigration, suggesting that rural-to-urban migration can be a substitute for international migration in fast growing urban economies. Overall, the findings suggest that different social mechanisms are at play in explaining emigration and immigration, and thus, these need to be analysed simultaneously, yet separately. In general, the paper highlights the usefulness of adopting a broader social transformation perspective when analysing the relations between human development and migration.
- Naiara Rodriguez Peña. (2019). State encroachment and migration in a peripheral frontier: A case study of Caracaraí, Brazil. University of Amsterdam.
This paper examines the evolution of migration in Caracaraí, a rural frontier Brazilian town in the state of Roraima from the 1950s to the 1990s, when the region was undergoing major political and socio-economic alterations. This paper shows that the urban planning processes together with the expansion of state functions impacted on the mobility patterns of the town. Traditional short-distance migration patterns associated with river-based commerce persisted, while the town started attracting higher volumes of small northeastern entrepreneurs as new occupations emerged in the construction, hospitality and public sectors. Based on secondary data and 20 interviews, this thesis explores the mobility patterns of peasants, extractive workers, skilled-temporary migrants and entrepreneurs in Caracaraí. Three main patterns can be drawn: first, early mobility patterns were circumscribed to the river-based commerce, which attracted (temporal) traders and circular migration from extractive workers and fishermen settled along the Rio Branco. Secondly, state-driven investment in the infrastructure network of the town triggered the temporal migration of skilled and professional workers, as well as the mobility of small entrepreneurs looking for working opportunities and leaving behind distress. Finally, the introduction of construction companies led to an expansion of the public administration that, being able to collect taxes, started providing the municipality with public services, such as transport, teachers or housing. This, together with the provision of public employment, led to the circular mobility of peasants and children alike, the immigration of individuals living along the river and the settlements of skilled public workers. Hence, we observe how the encroachment of the state in frontier settlements triggers and shapes migration in particular ways.
- Wielstra, Albertus Sikke Jan. (2019). Changing migration dynamics in a small rural town: a case of replacement migration and social transformation. University of Amsterdam.
This paper examines how long term processes of social change in the Dutch town of Bolsward (Friesland), and its hinterland, shaped people’s life aspirations and migration trajectories in the post-war period of 1945-1970. This analysis is embedded in a historical perspective, covering the period between 1880 and 1970, that aims to identify long term trends in migration and social change . By gathering and analysing internal and international migration data, and conducting semi-structured interviews with (ex-) Bolsward residents, this research identifies how social transformation processes, including agricultural mechanisation, educational expansion and industrialization, are intertwined with stable, intensifying and newly arising (im)mobility trajectories.