Estimation of Different Migration Patterns from Register Data — New Publication

Our analysis of migration flows is now properly published at IMR. We estimate different migration trajectories for 315,000 immigrants in three cohorts (1998, 2003, 2008). Basically, this means that we trace their mobility across time and space. This big data approach using register data — sequence analysis in this case — allows us to identify different migration and mobility patterns.

We find a great heterogeneity in migration practices. Some immigrants move to Switzerland, and for the duration we observe them, they stay there. At the other end of the scale, we have hyper-mobile individuals who enter and leave the country many times, and who also move within Switzerland several times. That’s hardly surprising, but we can do much more with these data.

First, we can systematically classify migration trajectories: identify clusters of individuals with similar patterns of mobility and migration. Some of them correspond to classic accounts in the migration literature, others are hardly ever discussed in existing studies (probably because the existing literature is focused on fixed “types” rather than a probabilistic world-view and with that highlights cases at the extremes).

Second, we can enumerate the relative frequency of different practices. In this sense, we complement the many case studies of specific migrant groups, such as the highly mobile “Eurostars” or traditional “labour migrants”. Qualitative studies provide rich accounts of these different migration and mobility patterns, but only a large-scale study like ours can tell us whether we’re looking at large groups or fringe phenomena.

Third, we can identify tendencies in who is likely to follow a specific migration trajectory. Here we use regression analysis to provide indications what individual-level characteristics are associated with different patterns of mobility.

The complexity of migration trajectories in which many immigrants move multiple times is consistent with narratives of immigrants using their agency to shape migration

Zuffrey et al. 2021, p.273

Forth, we provide evidence that it makes sense to combine the analysis of migration in the sense of crossing international borders and mobility in the sense of location change within a country. Migration does not always end when people cross an international border.

Substantively, we find that most immigrants stay for a short period. We also find that high levels of mobility are not new — the guest-worker regimes were characterized by just as much mobility as the later “free movement” system. Interestingly, despite all the talk of a “mobility turn” and “transnationalism”, we find very few hyper-mobile individuals (yes, they exist, but they are not the typical immigrant).

Zufferey, J., Steiner, I. and Ruedin, D. 2021. ‘The many forms of multiple migrations: Evidence from a sequence analysis in Switzerland, 1998 to 2008’. International Migration Review. 55(1):254-279. doi:10.1177/0197918320914239 [ Link to Publisher | Post-print ]

The Austrian People’s Party: An Anti-Immigrant Right Party.

In a new paper with Leila Hadj Abdou, we examine the profile of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) with regard to immigration. While we put a question mark in the title of the article, we conclude in the affirmative: Yes, we can consider the ÖVP an anti-immigrant party.

To reach this conclusion, we systematically examine the electoral manifestos of the party between 1994 and 2019 — following work I have done with Laura Morales. We can demonstrate that in the past the ÖVP held more ambiguous positions, but especially after 2017 the party has positioned itself more clearly against immigration, especially Muslim immigrants and their descendants as a ‘cultural other’ to the Austrian population. We argue that this change is due to the restructuring of the ÖVP into a leadership party.

Hadj-Abdou, Leila, and Didier Ruedin. 2021. ‘The Austrian People’s Party: An Anti-Immigrant Right Party?’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

Ruedin, Didier, and Laura Morales. 2019. ‘Estimating Party Positions on Immigration: Assessing the Reliability and Validity of Different Methods’. Party Politics 25 (3): 303–14.

Living Together or Side by Side? New Study out now!

Our new study examines how residents in Switzerland perceive migration-related social change in their municipality, their place of work, and in public. We left the ivory tower and listened. The result is a detailed and diverse picture: Migration is perceived as part of social change more widely, but it’s not migration as such that evokes threat. Perceptions of threat and fear are a side-effect of wider social change and economic growth, such as changes to the built environment because of new buildings, cars and transportation, and a perceived impoverishment of social life. It is clear that a majority seek communities with local opportunities to meet and exchange, but many also recognize that the world changes.

The report is available in French (, German (, or Italian (

Transnational Political Practices and Integration of Second Generation Migrants

Two of the S-SAM grantees just published a paper in JEMS on transnational political practices of so-called second generation migrants (children of immigrants). The paper looks at the ties of immigrants, focusing on transnational political practices. Using qualitative interviews of Ghanaians in Amsterdam, the paper shows that children of immigrants participate in politics in the country of destination and origin at the same time. The authors discuss the apparent contradictions between transnational political engagement and ‘integration’, and also highlight how citizenship policies can push children of immigrants in either direction.
Kyei, Justice Richard Kwabena Owusu, Elizabeth Nana Mbrah Koomson-Yalley, and Peter Dwumah. 2020. ‘Transnational Political Practices and Integration of Second Generation Migrants’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, September.
Zufferey, Jonathan, Ilka Steiner, and Didier Ruedin. 2020. ‘The Multiple Forms of Migration: Evidence from a Sequence Analysis in Switzerland 1998 to 2008’. International Migration Review.

New Publication: Do We Need Multiple Questions to Capture Feeling Threatened by Immigrants?

I’m happy to announce a new publication in ECPR’s open access Political Research Exchange (PRX).

In the article, I ask whether we need multiple questions to capture feeling threatened by immigrants. The answer is: it depends what you want to achieve. In many cases, the answers is ‘no’ — a single question or scale is enough to capture who is more opposed to immigrants. In other cases, however, we need the subtle differences in attitudes to different groups and thus ‘yes’ — multiple questions.

I use 24 different questions on potential neighbours to systematically vary the characteristics of immigrants in a representative survey in Switzerland, 2013. Respondents systematically consider immigrants from distant cultures and those more likely to receive welfare benefits as more threatening. At the same time, those who feel threatened by one kind of immigrants also tend to feel threatened by others. Questions about immigrants in the generic sense likely capture the right correlates, but they may miss differences in the level of threat evoked by different immigrants.

In some ways, this is a follow-up to my article in JEMS where I applied theories on attitudes to immigrants developed in Western countries to a non-Western country: South Africa. There I showed that research on attitudes to immigrants appears to generalize to non-Western contexts. These are validity checks for our theories, testing what we typically assume.

The article in PRX is open access and comes with open code (a.k.a. replication material) and open data.

Ruedin, Didier. 2020. ‘Do We Need Multiple Questions to Capture Feeling Threatened by Immigrants?’ Political Research Exchange 2 (1): 1758576.
Ruedin, Didier. 2019. ‘Attitudes to Immigrants in South Africa: Personality and Vulnerability’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 45 (7): 1108–26.