Migration, foreign aid, and development

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 (2018/20):