Out now — Choosing to migrate illegally: Evidence from return migrants

I am happy to announce a paper written with Majlinda Nesturi — Choosing Unauthorized Migration: Evidence from Return Migrants. While we have much knowledge about the nature of unauthorized migration and why it can and does occur, there is surprisingly little on why some individuals choose unauthorized immigration and others do not. As far as we could determine, nobody has ever used actual unauthorized migration (as opposed to authorized migration) as the outcome variable in quantitative analysis. One reason for this is most certainly that unauthorized migrants are hard to capture, especially in the country of destination. We use data on return migrants in Albania to capture actual unauthorized (rather than intended) behaviour. What is more, we capture unauthorized immigration when the migrants do not have to fear any consequences for revealing their previous behaviour.

We show that being young and male is associated with the choice or unauthorized migration. Our interpretation is that these two variables capture risk-taking behaviour — something future research should verify with dedicated variables. We also show that individuals are more likely to choose unauthorized migration when they are free of social responsibilities like having a partner or children. At the same time, authorized and unauthorized migrants resemble each other in many other aspects. If you think about it, this implies that restrictive immigration policies may lead to selecting risk-taking individuals, not necessarily those most needed in the labour market.

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