Longing for which home: A global analysis of the determinants of aspirations to stay, return or migrate onwards

  • 2024•03•04

    Els Bekaert, Amelie F. Constant, Killian Foubert & Ilse Ruyssen

    Most migration studies and theories focus on understanding the initial migration of people from their home country. Less attention has been paid to the factors influencing immigrants’ preferences to either permanently settle in the host country, return to their home country or move onwards to another destination. Understanding the characteristics and motives of those who aspire to leave the host country is, however, valuable for both host and home countries to formulate appropriate and effective policies in order to retain their valued immigrants or citizens and foster their successful (re-)integration. This paper provides a comprehensive global analysis of the characteristics and circumstances that shape first-generation immigrants’ aspirations to stay, return or migrate onwards, based on individual-level data from the Gallup World Polls across 138 countries worldwide between 2009 and 2016. Our study reveals that immigrants’ stated preferences are strongly influenced by demographics, human and spiritual capital, as well as by soft factors, such as social ties and sociocultural integration, while economic factors have a more feeble influence. Changes in circumstances in the home and host countries are also important determinants of locational aspirations. Some interesting exceptions to our results stand out when we differentiate home and host countries by their economic development levels.

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