Photo: Harits Mustya Pratama

Thousands of people have responded to surveys with questions about their wishes or plans for migration and researchers have analyzed the data to identify the drivers. But until now, the results have been fragmented. In the first-ever systematic literature review four PRIO researchers map out what makes people want to migrate. 

The review began with a survey of several hundered publications which were narrowed down to 49 comparable studies that use similar methods and measures. They are all based on surveys of the general population and use statistical analyses to explain why some people wish to migrate while others prefer to stay. Explanations are soughts in individual factors (such as educational attainment or employment status) as well as in contextual ones (such as the quality of public services or the levels of violence and insecurity).

The work was carried out by Maryam Aslany, Jørgen Carling, Mathilde B. Mjelva and Tone Sommerfelt as part of the project Quantifying Migration Scenarios for Better Policy (QuantMig), a collaborative EU-funded project led by the Universityof Southampton.

The authors examine 966 effects and define 32 determinants of migration aspirations. By means of innovative visual displays, the paper present the effects of each determinant in a way that accommodates attention to variations, exceptions and uncertainty.​ The factors that stand out as the most certain and steady drives of migration aspirations are young age and ties with current or former migrants. Other determinants - especially dissatisfaction with public services, and exposure to violence and insecurity - appear to raise migration aspirations even more consistently, but they have been addressed in fewer studies and therefore remain less certain.

Read the full paper (PDF)

Read a summary article on Medium.