Migration attempts from Senegal – who tries, who succeeds, who fails? Evidence on individual selection and the role of immigration policies

Cora Mezger, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Amparo Gonzalez-Ferrer, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

The distinction between migration attempts and actual migration is of interest to policy-makers and researchers, as barriers to international moves are considered to build up “pools of migrant candidates” in the origin countries. However, the existing empirical literature is to a large extent restricted to either realised migrations or stated intentions. Using the MAFE-Senegal survey (2008) which collected retrospective life-histories in Senegal and in European destination countries this paper aims to investigate both processes. More specifically, we examine in how far individual, family and contextual factors, including immigration policies, affect the decision to attempt migration, the realisation of the attempt, or both. According to the preliminary findings, more educated Senegalese males who perceive that their household is in financial difficulties, have some previous international migration experience and network connections in the destination area, are more likely to attempt to move to Europe. However, once the decision-making process is taken into account, the individual determinants of actually moving do not completely fit with the conventional wisdom. For instance, no gender differences are observed in the likelihood to successfully carry out the migration plan. Moreover, years of education are not a significant predictor of moving, conditional on having attempted migration. Only destination-specific migrant social capital appears helpful in the realization of the move. Finally, the role of contextual variables also seems to vary throughout the process leading to an international move. Widening gaps between origin and destination economic conditions increase the likelihood of migrating but not necessarily of starting the attempt in the first place. In addition to contributing new insights into selection processes underlying migration decisions and actual migration, the updated version of the study which incorporates variables on immigration policy also adds to the discussion on constructing quantitative measures of policies.

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Presented in Poster Session 1