Call for Survey Questions & Experiments: Sub-Saharan Africa

I am happy to announce a new call for a joint survey, building to a joint publication.

You can contribute (a) survey questions, (b) designs for survey experiments, and (c) interest in survey analysis in the following areas:

— The role of limited information in decisions to migrate
— Aspirations and abilities to migrate
— The role of different narratives of migration
— Immobility (inability or lack of motivation to move)
— Research on the role of trust in migration decisions
— Health and migration

The survey will probably be fielded in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, or a combination of these countries in October 2020.

You are embedded in a university in a Subsaharan African
country or in Switzerland, and study human migration in any relevant discipline.

Deadline: 4 September 2020

Online form:

For further information on the Swiss-Subsaharan Africa Migration Network (S-SAM):

Racism in Switzerland? Yes.

Oddly enough we still seem to discuss whether there is racism in Switzerland. Yes, there is.

Here a few hard facts from the NCCR on the move.

  • Job applicants with Black skin colour on their picture and a name from Cameroon have to send 30% more job applications to get invited for a job interview. They are Swiss citizens. Blog.
  • Job applicants with a name indicating Kosovan ancestors have to send up to 50% more job applications to get invited for a job interview. They are Swiss citizens. Blog.
  • 18% of the Swiss population entitled to vote are of ‘immigrant origin’. In 2015, 13% of the candidates for the National Council had a name suggesting ‘immigrant origin’ — only 6% got elected. Blog.
  • If your name suggests Turkish or Kosovan ancestry, you’re 3-5 percentage points less likely to be invited to view an apartment: There are landlords who do not want to meet you. Blog.

We also have tons of material on the experience of discrimination, experiencing racism, or negative attitudes to immigrants and foreigners.

Image credit: CC-by-sa Quinn Dombrowski

What is a maître d’enseignement et de recherche (MER)?

Maître d’enseignement et de recherche (MER) are relatively rare positions which were apparently introduced in universities in the French-speaking area of Switzerland in the 1990s.

MER are part of the corps intermédiaire (German: Mittelbau) along with PhD researchers and postdoctoral researchers. They are very similar to the Maître-assistante (MA) positions, also unique to French-speaking universities in Switzerland, as far as I know, with the only difference that MER are open-ended after evaluation, whereas MA positions are fixed-term (this makes MER the only positions in the corps intermédiaire that can be open-ended).

As other positions of the corps intermédiaire, MER are not part of the decision-making in universities, normally have no assistants, and may be excluded from some internal resources. They are attached to a chair, which limits independence in teaching and research, and typically teach more than professors. Despite the R in the name, apparently some MER effectively teach full time. Compared to professors, MER and MA have a lower salary and are often employed part-rime. Unlike Lecturers in the British system, no promotion is foreseen for MER (at all). In this sense, the ‘official’ translation of MER (and MA) into ‘senior lecturer’ is inaccurate.

Image credit: CC-by Jeena Paradies

Call for Papers — Decision-Making under Uncertainty: African Migrants in the Spotlight

In the context of the Swiss-Subsaharan African Migration Network (S-SAM), we’re now looking for paper contributions for a thematic issue at the open access journal Social Inclusion. Feel free to contact me for information.

Submission of Abstracts: 1-15 May 2020
Submission of Full Papers: 15-30 September 2020
Publication of the Issue: March 2021

Information: The objective of this thematic issue is to better understand how migrants decide whether to migrate and where to migrate to by considering the limited information available to them. Existing work is informed by two distinct literatures. Migration studies developed two-step models distinguishing ambitions to migrate from the capability to migrate, while contributions in economics and psychology have sharpened our understanding that we often make decisions without perfect information.

Without communication between literatures, however, we do not understand well why immigrants try to reach countries in the Global North despite seemingly impossible odds. The articles should use mostly qualitative and mixed methods to study migration decisions in countries of origin and transit, to better understand how imperfect and contradictory information affects decisions. They highlight the role of narratives and expectations, and how human biases and bounded rationality matter for ambitions to migrate, and what migrants do to maximize the capability to migrate.

Articles will focus on the initial decision to leave countries of origin—why individuals take considerable risks and often take on debt in their endeavour to reach countries in the Global North, risks that seem disproportional to the likely gains, as most immigrants never reach their destination, and many are unable to fulfil their expectations. Articles will also focus on what happens during the journey where formal and informal migration may be mixed. They explore how different narratives influence the migration journey as individuals learn more about the risks and likely outcomes. Articles focusing on student migrants in particular, a migration channel experiencing a recent surge without much attention in academia, are especially welcome. With the increasingly difficult routes across the Mediterranean, some individuals formally sign up for studies in countries such as Northern Cyprus as an intermediate destination.

Instructions for Authors: Authors interested in submitting a paper for this issue are asked to consult the journal’s instructions for authors and send their abstracts in a Word file (about 250 words, with a tentative title and reference to the thematic issue) by email to the Editorial Office ( When submitting their abstracts, authors are also asked to confirm that they are aware that Social Inclusion is an open access journal with a publishing fee if the article is accepted for publication after peer-review (corresponding authors affiliated with our institutional members do not incur this fee).

Open Access:  The journal has an article publication fee to cover its costs and guarantee that the article can be accessed free of charge by any reader, anywhere in the world, regardless of affiliation. We defend that authors should not have to personally pay this fee and advise them to check with their institutions if funds are available to cover open access publication fees. Institutions can also join Cogitatio’s Membership Program at a very affordable rate and enable all affiliated authors to publish without incurring any fees. Further information about the journal’s open access charges and institutional members can be found here.

Stuff we do here: TV report on discrimination (in French)

Here’s a short TV report on discrimination in the labour market in Switzerland, drawing on a field study by my (former) colleagues at Neuchâtel: (in French)

Swiss nationals of foreign origin have to send 30% more applications to get a job interview, according to a study by the University of Neuchâtel. Some communities are more affected, particularly people with family names from the Balkans.