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The International Migration Institute network (IMIn) preserves IMI's legacy while building on its achievements by fostering a network of researchers that is committed to develop new thinking about migration and mobility across the world.

  • Autocratic immigration policymaking: The illiberal paradox hypothesis

    29 November 2018

    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.

  • 2014 Ebola Outbreak Exposes Large Gaps in Financing Adequate Healthcare in West African Countries

    12 October 2018

    According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, the recent outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa might have originated in a toddler from the rural village of Meliandou, Guinea. After the child’s mysterious death in December 2013, symptoms, including high fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and organ failure, merged in family members who subsequently passed away. It is unclear how the 2-year-old, referred to as patient zero, was infected, yet his case has led currently to nearly 5,000 reported deaths and more than double the number of confirmed, probable and suspected infections in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—the three countries most affected by Ebola. Because of porous borders, transborder trade and travel and, importantly, fragile healthcare systems, the current epidemic has spread rapidly into capital cities such as Conakry, Monrovia and Freetown. Assessing Ebola from a political economy perspective, this Development Viewpoint contends that while the countries most affected have been urged in the past to prioritise conventional macro-economic policies of liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation, they have not been similarly supported to build strong public health systems as a development imperative.

  • ‘Saving the Congo’: transnational social fields and politics of home in the Congolese diaspora

    12 October 2018

    This paper explores the diasporic ‘politics of home’ of Congolese migrants in Europe, in particular in the UK, and to a lesser extent in Belgium. We focus on the fragmentation and heterogeneity of the diasporic political sphere by examining the role of first generation activists, religious groups, as well as youth and women's organisations. Within the transnational political field, first generation leaders are in a dominant position and the involvement of other groups, such as women and young people is marginalised by their control of the diasporic ‘rules of the game’ in the Bourdieusan sense. However, the increasing involvement of Congolese women in the field of women's rights advocacy has opened up new paths of political action which can, in certain occasions, lead to transnational forms of engagement. Similarly, second generation Congolese activists are constructing a space of autonomous engagement, relying heavily on the Internet and especially on social media, some attempting to link up with wider social movements. The paper provides an understanding of the social and political construction of these different fields of diasporic engagement as well as their intersectional and dialogical relations.

  • A ‘Despicable Shambles’. Labour, property and status in Faya-Largeau, Northern Chad

    12 October 2018

    Faya-Largeau, the largest oasis in northern Chad, seems to present a classic picture of Saharan labour relations and status groups. Colonial officers spoke of nomadic ‘overlords’ who used to exploit sedentary ‘serfs’ of slave descent, but indirectly favoured the latter; today, former status relations are renegotiated, at times violently so. Access to vital resources, and especially agricultural land, is the focus of much contemporary conflict. Yet, on a closer look, this picture becomes less familiar: local agriculture requires little labour, property rights are uncertain, bilateral descent, exogamy and a high degree of mobility blur boundaries, while state involvement remains limited and ambiguous, and education little valued. Status, property and labour hence emerge as contextual categories that depend on as much as they constitute a historically specific and inherently unstable mode of production.

  • A Diaspora Returns: Liberia Then and Now

    12 October 2018

    Sankofa is an Akan word from Ghana which, when translated literally, means: ‘We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; we must understand why and how we came to be to know who we are today.’ Standing at the apex of Ducor in central Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, one can see why the country used to be a beacon of light for the continent of Africa and its Diaspora. With lush green trees standing in stark contrast to an artist’s vision of modern chromed buildings, only the loss and destruction spurned by a fifteen-year civil war now emanate from the country’s recovering edifice. Liberia’s 160-year past is written in the history books as a tale of tragedy, a reminder of political, economic and social upheavals, as well as the failures of a system structured in dominance. Nonetheless, there are signs of hope everywhere if you take a second look: former child soldiers selling candles on the street; market women in the hot sun bartering their wares; the planting of poplar trees on Broad Street—a major thoroughfare in the country; and the hustle-bustle grind of daily life that evokes a sense of activity, movement, and progress. Another inkling of hope seems to be the wave of Diaspora Liberians who are returning, infused with the ‘Back to Africa’ ethos that buoyed up black nationalists such as Paul Cuffee, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Dubois, all of whom saw Liberia as an outpost for their aspirations of cross-continental migration. It follows suit that Liberia’s history is a dialectical pattern of migration, opposition, exile and return.

  • A game of risk: Boat migration and the business of bordering Europe

    12 October 2018

    Largely in response to irregular migration flows, a Euro-African border is under construction at the southern edges of Europe. The latest phase in this ‘borderwork’ is a system known as Eurosur, underpinned by a vision of a streamlined surveillance cover of Europe's southern maritime border and the African ‘pre-frontier’ beyond it. Eurosur and other policing initiatives pull in a range of sectors – from border guards to aid workers – that make the statistically small figure of the irregular border crosser their joint target. To highlight the economic and productive aspects of controlling migratory flows, I call this varied group of interests an ‘illegality industry’. Casting an eye on the Spanish section of the external EU border, this article investigates how the illegality industry conceptualizes migrants as a source of risk to be managed, visualized and controlled. The end result, it is argued, is a ‘double securitization’ of migrant flows, rendering these as both a security threat and a growing source of profits.

  • A Global Assessment of Human Capital Mobility: The Role of non-OECD Destinations

    12 October 2018

    Discussions of high-skilled mobility typically evoke migration patterns from poorer to wealthier countries, which ignore movements to and between developing countries. This paper presents, for the first time, a global overview of human capital mobility through bilateral migration stocks by gender and education in 1990 and 2000, and calculation of nuanced brain drain indicators. Building on newly collated data, the paper uses a novel estimation procedure based on a pseudo-gravity model, then identifies key determinants of international migration, and subsequently uses estimated parameters to impute missing data. Non-OECD destinations account for one-third of skilled-migration, while OECD destinations are declining in relative importance.

  • A New Profile of Migrants in the Aftermath of the Recent Economic Crisis

    12 October 2018

    Growing international migration and diverse characteristics of migrant populations make internationally comparable high-quality data on migrants essential. Regular update of these data is crucial to capture the changes in size and composition of migrant populations. This document presents the first results of the update of the Database on Immigrants in OECD Countries (DIOC) for 2010/11. It describes immigrant and emigrant populations by socio-demographic characteristics and labour market outcomes in the OECD, and shows their evolution in the past decade. It also provides updated emigration rates and brain drain figures.

  • A picture speaks a thousand words: Understanding women's migration in Johannesburg through visual diaries

    12 October 2018

    Using the visual diaries of a group of African women migrants now living in Johannesburg, this article explores what is now termed the ‘feminisation of migration’. It does this less by drawing attention to the fact that women are moving, than by using women’s own images and narratives to reveal dimensions of that experience that have yet to be understood. Women’s visual diaries and their narratives reveal the ways in which they negotiate the structural impediments of asylum officialdom, police harassment, patriarchy, unemployment and poverty. The research argues that current understandings of the feminisation of migration do not adequately reveal the socio-cultural and political complexities of women’s mobility on the African continent. Women are not the silent emissaries that dominant iconography portrays them as being. Their discursive practices and images ‘talk back’ and contest hegemonic representations. And while many have overcome significant structural hurdles in order to survive, they are not always heroines. By using photographs that have been taken and explained by the ‘subjects’ themselves, the method allows migrant women’s voices to be heard, and through chosen images, reveals how they wish to represent their realities. This paper thus reveals women’s schemas – their ways of making sense of, and conceptualising their worlds and experiences. In doing so it offers an alternative way of reading the complexity of African women’s mobility in the twenty first century.

  • Aborder le continuum des mobilites spatiales: proposition d'un protocole de mesure des migrations au sahel

    12 October 2018

    Les sorties du continent africain ne sont qu’une facette d’un large éventail de pratiques migratoires, qui demeurent méconnues dans leur ensemble, en tout cas peu ou mal mesurées. Ces migrations et mobilités sont-elles toutes massives, durables ? Certaines sont à l’évidence versatiles parce qu’elles s’adaptent aux crises et politiques des pays d’accueil ou de transit, s’infléchissent selon les opportunités économiques changeantes, réagissant aux accidents climatiques, aux guerres. A l’opposé, d’autres déplacements circulaires ou saisonniers, voire quotidiens, sont très structurants du fait de leur ancienneté ou de leur ampleur et surtout de leur pérennité. Certains flux moins étudiés contribuent à l’urbanisation comme à la recomposition permanente des villes, participent aux stratégies individuelles de lutte contre la pauvreté. Les migrations internationales vers les pays du Nord, qui retiennent toutes les attentions, sont indissociables de ce système de mobilités, qu’il convient d’aborder comme un ensemble cohérent. L’approche globale des systèmes de mobilité suppose d’en saisir les différentes formes et de retrouver leurs cohérences et complémentarités. Les individus et les groupes associent inévitablement des pratiques migratoires diverses, de même que les lieux les rassemblent selon des dosages adaptés au contexte. Retrouver ce continuum des mobilités requiert des outils adéquats de collecte et de prolonger la réflexion sur l’articulation des mobilités tout en répondant au devoir de mesure. Suivant cette approche nous avons développé un protocole méthodologique qui répond à l’exigence de continuité de l’observation, de pérennité pour saisir les changements. Ce protocole associe une approche par les territoires et une approche par les circulations pour saisir en temps réel les flux et leurs implications. L’approche par les territoires se fonde sur un outil de mesure qui associe l’approche biographique à différentes échelles temporelles et la mesure des réseaux sociaux et des échanges. L’approche par les circulation se fonde quant à elle, sur une mesure et une description des flux à partir de l’origine/destination, de la trajectoire et du réseaux social du migrant en déplacement. La répétition des enquêtes assure la continuité de l’observation des territoires comme des mouvements, de même qu’elle permet d’en saisir leurs dynamiques. Le protocole jette ainsi les bases d’un observatoire des migrations au Sahel : sa dimension régionale est cruciale, de même qu’une localisation représentative sur les principaux axes de circulation. Il est mis en place au Burkina Faso, au Niger et au Mali - à terme au Sénégal et au Maroc - et repose sur l’association de différentes équipes dans chacun des pays.

  • DEMIG C2C data

    4 July 2018

    The DEMIG C2C (country-to-country) database contains bilateral migration flow data for 34 reporting countries and from up to 236 countries over the 1946–2011 period. It includes data for inflows, outflows and net flows, respectively for citizens, foreigners and/or citizens and foreigners combined, depending on the reporting countries. The DEMIG C2C database was compiled through extensive data collection and digitalisation of historical national statistics as well as current electronic sources. It provides a unique opportunity to construct migration flows from many origin countries to the 34 reporting countries, as well as return flows.


    4 July 2018

    Determinants of International Migration

    DEMIG POLICY tracks more than 6,500 migration policy changes enacted by 45 countries around the world mostly in the 1945-2013 period. The policy measures are coded according to the policy area and migrant group targeted, as well as the change in restrictiveness they introduce in the existing legal system. The database allows for both quantitative and qualitative research on the long-term evolution and effectiveness of migration policies.

  • DEMIG TOTAL data

    4 July 2018

    Determinants of International Migration

    DEMIG TOTAL reports immigration, emigration and net migration flows for up to 161 countries covering various periods of time from the early 1800s to 2011, disaggregating total flows of citizens and foreigners whenever possible. The database allows for quantitative analysis of the long-term evolution of international migration.

  • EUMAGINE data

    4 July 2018

    EUMAGINE: Imagining Europe from the Outside investigated the impact of perceptions of human rights and democracy on migration aspirations and decisions. Funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme, the EUMAGINE project involved more than thirty researchers in seven countries who worked to understand how people in Morocco, Senegal, Turkey and Ukraine relate to the possibility of migration. Following the end of the project in 2013, its data is now available to interested researchers.

  • THEMIS data

    16 July 2018

    Theorizing the Evolution of European Migration Systems (THEMIS)

    Theorizing the Evolution of European Migration Systems (THEMIS) was a four-year project which took a fresh look at how patterns of migration to Europe develop, focusing on the conditions that encourage initial moves by pioneer migrants to become established migration systems (or not). Following the end of the project its data is now available to interested researchers through the UK Data Service [click through section to access link]

  • Migration as Development (MADE)

    15 January 2018

    This project develops new theoretical and empirical approaches to gain a fundamental understanding of the relation between development processes and human migration. While prior analyses focused on a limited number of economic and demographic ‘predictor’ variables, this project applies a broader concept of development to examine how internal and international migration trends and patterns are shaped by wider social, economic, technological and political transformations.

  • Family strategies of migrants in West Africa

    23 October 2017

    Investigating the relationship between family and migration in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital city

  • Migrants in countries in crisis: Supporting an evidence-based approach for effective and cooperative state action

    23 October 2017

    IMI will work in partnership with ICMPD and researchers in the regions on 4 case studies: Libya, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa.

  • African Migrations Programme

    4 July 2018

    Improving the understanding of migration patterns within, to and from Africa over time. IMI is working with African researchers and universities across the continent to support research and build research capacity.

  • African Perspectives on Human Mobility

    10 July 2018

    Despite an unprecedented growth in international migration research, little has focused on migration from the perspective of developing countries. Understanding of migration patterns across large parts of Africa is particularly limited.

  • Development, inequality and change

    29 August 2017

    Migration has fundamental implications for development and social change in destination and origin countries. We analyse how migration affects social, cultural and economic change as well as patterns of inequality. We focus on understanding why migration has more positive outcomes in some contexts, while more negative outcomes in others.

  • Diasporas and identity

    28 August 2017

    Globalisation has dramatically increased the scope for migrants and their descendants to sustain long-distance links with origin societies, often over generations. We focus on how diasporas are formed; their impact on identity; the roles of migrant and diaspora organisations; and whether diasporas challenge classical models of immigrant integration and the nation state.

  • Drivers and dynamics

    24 August 2017

    Development processes shape human mobility in fundamental and often counter-intuitive ways. We examine how internal and international migration is driven by wider social, economic, technological and political transformations. Our research challenges assumptions that development will reduce migration and the sedentary foundations of much research and policy.

  • Policy and states

    28 August 2017

    The effectiveness of migration policies is highly contested. We examine the changing role of origin and destination states in migration processes by analysing their explicit attempts to intervene through migration policies and the impact of other policy areas, such as trade and taxation. Our research helps to understand why policies often fail to meet their stated objectives.