Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


DEMIG — Result In Brief

Project ID: 240940
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: United Kingdom

The effects of immigration policies on migration flows

EU researchers explored how the migration policies of receiving and sending states can affect the size, direction and nature of international migration to wealthy countries. The resulting 'big picture' of migration policies by both sending and receiving countries goes beyond simple push-pull and equilibrium models.
The effects of immigration policies on migration flows
Backed by EU funding, the project DEMIG (The determinants of international migration: A theoretical and empirical assessment of policy, origin and destination effects) examined how states and migration policies impact the volume, spatial orientation, composition and timing of migration.

The project devised a novel methodology – a longitudinal, double comparative approach to studying migration flows of multiple origin groups to multiple destination countries. This design afforded a unique, simultaneous analysis of origin and destination countries, as well as network and policy effects.

Researchers first considered migration theories that focus on either sending or receiving countries. Then they integrated these with theories on the internal dynamics of migration processes with a view to improving operationalisation of policy variables.

The team conducted an empirical analysis of policy effects to include in a theoretical framework of macro- and meso-level forces driving international migration to and from wealthy countries. Several databases were compiled for the analysis. These include DEMIG TOTAL (total immigration and emigration for up to 163 countries from the turn of the 20th century), DEMIG C2C (bilateral migration flows for 33 countries from 1946 to 2010) and DEMIG POLICY (6 500 migration policies in 45 countries from 1946 to 2013).

Descriptive analysis of migration data challenges certain popular beliefs regarding global migration. For example, DEMIG showed that rather than having become more globalised, migration from an increasing number of origin countries has concentrated in a decreasing set of prime destinations. One key analytical insight is that migration policies need to be understood as a tool of migrant selection, rather than as an instrument that influences numbers.

DEMIG identified four substitution effects that can significantly reduce or undermine the effectiveness of migration restrictions: spatial, categorical, inter-temporal and reverse flow substitution. Work in this area highlights the importance of indirect, but powerful ways in which destination and origin states affect migration, for example through non-migration policies such as labour market or social welfare policies.

Project research highlights the asymmetric nature of globalisation processes. The findings have major policy implications, offering new insights into how policies shape migration processes in their interaction with other migration determinants.

Related information


Migration policies, international migration, wealthy countries, DEMIG, migration flows
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