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Migration drivers and decision-making of West and Central Africans on the move in West and North Africa

A quantitative analysis of factors contributing to departure

According to a “state of the art” study carried out for ICMPD in the framework of the Rabat Process, research on the so-called “root causes” of migration is often based on a functionalist notion of migration which sees inequality in the distribution of goods as spurring cross-border movements. Such conceptions generally lead to the idea that if you address these root causes – in recent years approached primarily through development programming – it is possible to reduce the demand for migration. The outcome of the Rabat Process thematic meeting signaled a recognition of the need to look at the reasons for migration in a more comprehensive and holistic manner, in a departure from the more functionalist approach.

Based on 2,083 surveys carried out with refugees and migrants surveyed in West and North Africa as part of the Mixed Migration Centre’s 4Mi project, this paper seeks to contribute to the empirical basis for such a holistic migrant-centered approach by examining a variety of elements that factor into migration decision-making. It does so by revisiting recent debates on migration decision-making, including through work by ICMPD in the context of the Rabat Process, and follows with an analysis of 4Mi quantitative data looking at 1) reasons people left their country of departure; 2) influences on their migration decision and 3) perceptions of possible alternatives to migration.

This report was prepared for the Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development (Rabat Process) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) as part of the partnership between MMC and ICMPD to foster effective and sustainable migration policies and programmes.

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