Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Review of Economic and Asylum-Seeker: Migration Decision Making Perspectives

Christidis, Les (2017): Review of Economic and Asylum-Seeker: Migration Decision Making Perspectives. Published in: Pacific Journal of Migration and Development , Vol. 26, No. 1 (2017): pp. 1-12.


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The reasons why people migrate are often multiple and changing, and the categories of ‘economic migrant’ and ‘asylum-seeker’ are too rigid to reflect reality. There are many shared motivations for regular and irregular migration. Having the capability and economic means to migrate is particularly important; in conflict situations people may be very keen to migrate, but may not have sufficient resources to do so. Lack of economic opportunities in the country of origin and the hope of greater opportunities in another country are important drivers of irregular migration, though expectations vary according to the nature and reliability of the sources of information individual migrants have. Irregular migration is usually a collective effort in which families and social and religious networks play a crucial role. Irregular migrants are commonly supported financially by friends or family; as migration from a society becomes common, a ‘culture of migration’ may emerge in communities of origin which drives further migration. Many people who migrate irregularly use the services of smugglers or agents, who influence which destination is offered, promoted, or available, and the route taken. Smugglers’ networks have become increasingly professionalised, in particular as a result of the ability of Syrian migrants to pay for more sophisticated services. While tightening border security may change migration patterns and routes, migration policies are unlikely to influence the volume of people migrating. A person’s need to leave their home is likely to be far more important to them than different countries’ welfare and asylum support systems. Trade and investment in a source country is likely to increase, not reduce, migration. It is not individuals from the poorest households who migrate to Europe, but rather those who have access to sufficient resources to pay for their journey.

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