African Migration: Root Causes and Regulatory Dynamics (AMIREG)

There are an estimated 1 billion migrants in the world today and demographic imbalances, economic inequality, increased globalization, political instability and climatic changes all forecast further episodes of large-scale migration in the coming decades. As an important force of development in both sending and destination regions, migration forms a top-priority issue in the global policy debate. To assess the impact of future migrant flows and to develop appropriate policies to manage them, knowledge of their size, composition and distribution is crucial. There are, however, inherent difficulties in predicting the scale and dispersion of the ensuing migrant flows. Empirical analyses are typically subject to binding data constraints, inducing a reliance on a (very) coarse spatial and temporal aggregation of the data. The first and second objective of AMIREG, then, grouped in Work Package 1 of the project, are to provide a deeper understanding of the root causes of migration with a specific focus on the role of financial incentives and constraints; and to identify the effectiveness of and scope for regional agreements to ease mobility responses to such geo-localized shocks.

The second work package of the project wants to understand the interest of political actors in and the added value of the regulation of mobility as opposed to non-regulation. Over centuries the populations in West Africa have developed a “culture of migration" functioning as a strategy to cope with local poverty, drought, or conflict. In fact, migration in Africa is a key resource in development and poverty reduction. Traditionally, West African countries approached migration in a laissez-faire way by maintaining porous borders and, if any, poorly implemented migration policy. However, the idea of managing migration by developing a more fully-fledged policy has gained traction also in West African countries. Most likely, the consequence of adopting a migration policy is the regulation of in- and exclusion of non-nationals from the territory and labour market. This shift from non-regulation to regulation may be a critical juncture in mobility management in West Africa.

For more information, please contact Dr. Sara Salomone.