What is it about?

The phenomenon of irregular migration is well documented, and in this article we ask who among immigrants is likely to choose irregular migration. We are the first to model individual choice of actual unauthorized migration, rather than intentions to migrate. Because we use data from Albanian return migrants, we can ascertain that we capture actual migration (behaviour) rather than intentions. In the Albanian context – dominated by circular migration – young men are more likely to choose irregular migration. We interpret this as risk-taking individuals choosing irregular migration. We also find that those free of social responsibilities like having a partner or children are more likely to choose irregular migration.

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Why is it important?

We have a relatively good understanding why irregular migration occurs, but not so much who among potential migrants chooses irregular migration. Policies targeting irregular migration will probably fail if the nature of the phenomenon is poorly understood.


Middle-income countries increasingly produce high-quality datasets. Here we focus on irregular migration, a phenomenon that captures the imagination of policy-makers in countries of destination. In the country of destination, irregular migration is notoriously difficult to capture, but by drawing on those who have returned, we are able to generate new insights on the nature of irregular migration.

Didier Ruedin
Universite de Neuchatel

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Choosing Unauthorized Migration: Evidence from Return Migrants, International Migration, April 2018, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/imig.12461.
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