Pulling up the ladder? Migrants’ choices about helping others migrate or not

wip_148x200Chain migration remains an essential element of migration, although its dynamics have changed over time. In the past, networks may have been the only source of information about potential destinations. Today, information is more widely accessible, but the regulatory obstacles to migration have given networks new roles. In a restrictive migration regime, support from people at the destination becomes almost a prerequisite for migration. As one migration scholar put it in the mid-1990s, settled migrants are becoming ‘gatekeepers’ as much as ‘bridgeheads’. Settled migrants can enable the migration of others in diverse ways, including entering a marriage, providing an employment contract, sponsoring a family visit, or financing human smuggling, or hosting someone without a residence permit. But under which conditions do migrants offer such help to others, and thereby facilitate chain migration? And when do migrants choose to turn down request for help? This paper uses a unique new data set from the project Theorizing the Evolution of European Migration Systems (THEMIS). The data covers twelve origin–destination pairs and survey interviews with a total of 2400 migrants. Respondents come from Brazil, Morocco, and Ukraine and have migrated to the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Data collection also comprised qualitative interviews; this data plays a smaller role in the present paper and is used mainly for illustrative purposes. (This work is being carried out together with Jennifer Wu, who is also at PRIO.)

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