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This latest IMI working paper questions common assumptions that African migrants in Europe do not return home and that migration policies reduce migration to Europe.

There is a common belief that Africans migrate to Europe and do not return. This has caused policy-makers to implement policies that encourage or force migrants to return to Africa in recent years. At the same time migration policies have become more restrictive for African migrants in Europe. There remains however, little data or understanding of the impact these policies have on migrants return to Africa.

In this paper, Marie-Laurence Flahaux uses data from the Migration between Africa and Europe (MAFE) project with IMI’s DEMIG POLICY and DEMIG VISA databases to study the impact of migration policies in France, Italy and Spain on the likelihood of Senegalese migrants returning home.

Flahaux finds that policies which restrict migrants’ length of stay and those that encourage or force migrants to return do not affect the likelihood of return. Policy restrictions on entry to a country however, do have an impact. These policies intended to reduce the flow of African migrants to Europe can actually result in migrants already in Europe staying.