The Migration Policy Centre (MPC) conducts theoretical, empirical and policy research on the transnational governance of international migration, asylum and mobility. This page provides an overview of our major research themes and projects with links to more information. For a list of our research publications, click here.
MPC research on this theme aims to understand the characteristics, determinants, and effects of public attitudes to migration and migration policies. How do public attitudes to immigration vary across countries, and how have they changed over time? What are the determinants of people’s views on migration and different types of migrants? What are the characteristics and determinants of people’s preferences with regard to migration, asylum, and integration policies? What are the implications for the politics and governance of migration and asylum?
Selected recent publications and working papers (2018/21):
- Jeannet, A.M., Heidland, T. and M. Ruhs (2021) “What asylum and refugee policies do Europeans want? Evidence from a cross-national conjoint experiment” , European Union Politics, OnlineFirst
- Rezart Hoxhaj & Carolina V. Zuccotti(2021) “The complex relationship between immigrants’ concentration, socioeconomic environment and attitudes towards immigrants in Europe”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 44:2, 272-292
- Dražanová, Lenka, Liebig, Thomas, Migali, Silvia, Scipioni, Marco and Spielvogel, Gilles.2020. What are Europeans’ views on migrant integration?: An in-depth analysis of 2017 Special Eurobarometer “Integration of immigrants in the European Union”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 238, OECD Publishing, Paris
- Dennison J. and Drazanova, L. (2019) Public attitudes on migration : rethinking how people perceive migration : an analysis of existing opinion polls in the Euro-Mediterranean region. European Union. ICMPD; Migration Policy Centre; OPAM
- Jeannet, Anne-Marie and Dražanová, Lenka.(2019) “Cast in the Same Mould: How Politics During the Impressionable Years Shapes Attitudes Towards Immigration in Later Life”, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2019/79.
- Dennison, J. and A. Geddes (2018), “A rising tide? The salience of immigration and the rise of anti-immigration political parties in Western Europe”, The Political Quarterly 90 (1)
MPC research on this theme explores both the meaning and practice of migration governance. Through analysis of meaning, our research analyses how decision-makers and others involved in making or shaping migration policy understand the challenges they face and how these understandings inform actions. By practice, we mean the practical outputs and outcomes of these understandings as they take shape in the forms of laws, policies and other types of action. Our research is truly global looking across states and regions and also genuinely multilevel in that we actively seek to connect the local, the national and the transnational.
Selected recent publications and working papers (2018/19):
- Geddes, Andrew (2020, forthcoming) Governing Migration Beyond the State, Oxford University Press.
- Geddes, Andrew, Vera Espinoza, Marcia, Hadj-Abdou, Leila and Brumat, Leiza, eds. (2019) The Dynamics of Regional Migration Governance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar
- Recchi, E., Deutschmann, E. and M. Vespe (2019) “Estimating Transnational Human Mobility on a Global Scale”, EUI RSCAS Working Paper
- Martin, P. and M. Ruhs (2019) “Labour Market Realism and the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees”, RSCAS Working Paper 2019/23
- Caponio, T., Scholten, P. and R. Zapata-Barrero (2018) The Routledge Handbook of the Governance of Migration and Diversity in Cities, Routledge, Abongton
- Dennison, J. and Geddes, A. (2018). “Brexit and the Perils of Europeanised Immigration”. Journal of European Public Policy 25 (8): 1137-1153
There is a large research literature on the impacts of immigration on the labour markets and welfare states of high-income countries. While much of this research has focused on single countries, MPC research explores how these effects vary across countries with different socio-economic institutions (e.g. different welfare states and labour market regulations). We also aim to analyse potential effects in the opposite direction, i.e. how national labour market and welfare institutions shape the characteristics, effects, and politics of migration and mobility. This question is highly relevant to national and supra-national policy debates, yet it remains relatively under-explored in existing research. What are the relationships between national welfare states and policies toward labour migrants and asylum seekers? What are the effects of cross-country variations in national institutions for the transnational governance of migration (e.g. for common EU policies on free movement and migration, or for the global governance of migration)?
Selected recent publications and working papers (2018/19):
- Anderson, B., Poeschel, F. and M. Ruhs (2021) “Rethinking labour migration: Covid-19, essential work, and systemic resilience”,
Comparative Migration Studies, forthcoming (earlier Working Paper here)
- Osterman, M, Palme, J. and M. Ruhs (2019) “National institutions and the fiscal effects of EU migrants”, REMINDER working paper, www.reminder-project.eu
- Ruhs, M. and J. Palme (2018) “Institutional contexts of political conflicts around free movement in the European Union: A theoretical analysis”, Journal of European Public Policy 25(10): 1481-1500.
- Ruhs, M. (2018) “Labor immigration policies in high-income countries: Variations across political regimes and varieties of capitalism”, Journal of Legal Studies 47 (S1): S89-S127
Despite its ubiquity in migration discourse, mobility practices like migrant smuggling, the facilitation of migration, and migrants’ secondary movements have been scarcely researched. Furthermore, most examinations on these topics rely on secondary sources, and fail to incorporate the perspectives and challenges faced by those directly involved and/or impacted by said practices and their criminalization. The MPC is at the forefront of this research field, generating empirical and critical work that is also interdisciplinary and global in nature. Our work, incorporating participatory methods and community perspectives, provides nuanced data and responses concerning the impact of migration enforcement practices, the organization of smuggling facilitation, the use and reliance of technology by migrants in the course of their journeys, among others. It also documents legal challenges and responses to migration controls, and the latter’s impact on human and civil rights.
Selected recent publications and working papers(2018/19):
- Carrera, S., V. Mitsilegas, J. Allsopp, L. Vosyliute (2019). Policing Humanitarianism: EU Policies against human smuggling and their impact on civil society. Oxford: Hart Publishing.
- Hadj Abdou, L. and S. Rosenberger (2019) Contesting the deportation state? Political change aspirations in protests against forced returns, Ethnic and Racial Studies 42 (16): 102-119.
- Ricard-Guay A. (2018) Criminalizing migrants who steer the dinghies in the Mediterranean: A collateral effect of migration management? RSCAS Working Paper, EUI Working Paper RSCAS 2018/32. Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Global Governance Programme: Fiesole, Italy.
- Sanchez, G., R. Hoxhaj, S. Nardin, A. Geddes, L. Achilli, S. Kalantaryan (2018). A study of the communication channels used by migrants and asylum seekers in Italy, with a particular focus on online and social media. Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs. Brussels: European Commission.
- Zhang, S., G. Sanchez and L. Achilli (eds.) (2018). Migrant Smuggling as a Collective Strategy and Insurance Policy: Views from the Margins. Special Issue of THE ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, vol. 676.
- Zuccotti, C.V., Geddes, A.P., Bacchi, A., Nori, M. and Stojanov, R. (2018). “Rural Migration in Tunisia: Drivers and patterns of rural youth migration and its impact on food security and rural livelihoods in Tunisia”, Rome: FAO.
How do foreign aid and development affect migration flows? Do more foreign aid and higher levels of development lead to less or more out-migration? These questions are highly relevant to public policy debates in Europe and other high-income countries, yet they remain relatively unexplored empirically. Nevertheless, there appears to be some consensus in the small research literature on this issue that the impact of foreign aid on migration flows is often positive, especially in the lowest-income countries. This is based on the idea that there is an inverse U-shaped relationship between migration and development (frequently referred to as the “migration hump”): as GDP per capita rises, emigration first increases (by loosening the budget constraints of poor households) and then decreases after a certain threshold is reached. Our research aims to provide more in-depth analyses of these relationships. We ask the following questions: How do different types of aid affect migration flows? How does foreign aid affect the out-migration of different groups of migrants? Under what conditions does the “migration hump” (not) apply? What are the policy implications?
Selected recent publications and working papers (2018/21):
- Lanati M, M. Sanfilippo and F. Santi (2022), Aid and Internal Migration in Malawi. World Development, Volume 162, 106134, ISSN 0305-750X
- Lanati M, Thiele R (2022), South-South refugee movements: Do pull factors play a role? Working Paper, EUI RSC, Migration Policy Centre (MPC), Under Review
- Lanati M. Venturini A. (2021) Cultural Change and The Migration Choice. Review of World Economics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10290-021-00418-1, ISSN: 1610-2878
- Lanati M, Thiele R (2021), The Link between Economic Growth and Emigration from Developing Countries: Does Migrants’ Skill Composition Matter? Working Paper, EUI RSC, 2021/91, Migration Policy Centre (MPC), Under Review
- Lanati M, Thiele R (2020). International Student Flows from Developing Countries: Do Donors Have an Impact? Economics of Education Review, vol. 77, ISSN: 0272-7757
- Lanati M, Thiele R (2020). Foreign Assistance and Emigration: Accounting for the Role of Non-Transferred Aid. The World Economy, vol. 43, p.1951–1976, ISSN: 0378-5920
- Lanati M, Thiele R (2018). The Impact of Foreign Aid on Migration Revisited. World Development, vol. 111, p. 59-74, ISSN: 0305-750X
- Lanati M, Thiele R (2018). Foreign assistance and migration choices: Disentangling the channels. Economics Letters, vol. 172, p. 148-151, ISSN: 0165-1765
What is the use of research in public debates and policy-making on immigration and integration? Why are there such large gaps between migration debates and migration realities, and how can they be reduced? To address these questions, we analyse the links between research, public debates (including media and public opinion), and policy-making on migration, in both high- and lower-income countries. Our analysis aims to critically engage and go beyond the popular ideas of “evidence based policy-making” and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, “post-truth politics”. We seek to understand how and why research does, or does not, influence public debates and policy-making on migration at local, national, and supra-national levels. We are particularly interested in exploring how the relationships between research, debates, and policy vary across countries and different levels of governance.
Selected recent publications (2018/19):
- Ruhs, M., Tamas, T. and J. Palme eds. (2019) Bridging the Gaps: Linking Research to Public Debates and Policy-making on Migration and Integration, Oxford University Press