Sub-Saharan Migration to Europe in Times of Restriction: An Empirical Test of Substitution Effects

Cris Beauchemin, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Marie-Laurence Flahaux, University of Oxford

Studies on the effects of migration policies are usually hampered by a lack of data related both to migration policies and to migration itself. In this paper, we analyze trends of migration between Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe since the mid-1970s, using the unique data of the MAFE project, a major initiative that has collected data in 3 African and 6 destination countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Senegal on one hand; and Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK on the other hand). We show that restrictive policies have failed to curb immigration into Europe and also that they had a series of unintended effects (growing irregular migration, changing routes, lesser propensity to return). The results thus confirm the “substitution effects” hypothesis. Furthermore, comparisons between sending countries show that these “substitution effects” vary according to the economic and political context at origin.

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Presented in Session 192: International Migration