Evidence of the Determinants of Migration in the EU

Evidence of the Determinants of Migration in the EU

April 30, 2019

Working Paper

Surprisingly little is known about why people migrate within the EU. While existing studies in the area have tended to focus on migration for reasons of employment, there is a growing push to understand the diversity of migrational factors, for example factors relating to family or education. This working paper seeks to build a better understanding of what drives contemporary migration flows, and of the factors shaping the migration decisions of individuals within the EU. The researchers collected data through focus groups, interviews, and surveys in five major intra-EU destination countries: Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

The main finding of the study is that there is rarely one clear “determinant” of an individual’s intra-EU migration decision. Instead, motivations for migration and the choice of a specific destination country are more often than not complex and highly interrelated. As such, the decisions made by individual migrants are often based on a unique combination of factors that may be difficult to separate out and analyse in isolation from one another. We find that the considerations that shape intra-EU mobility are highly diverse and challenge the conventional understandings of migration within the EU28 as largely being determined by work and family. The research suggests that specific factors relating to educational and career development opportunities, the desire for new experiences and challenges, preferences for particular cultures, lifestyles, political systems and social norms, and the pursuit of self-knowledge, are highly relevant in many intra-EU migrants’ mobility decisions.

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