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Research from Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas analyses the general trends of African migration

An article published in the news magazine of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, N-IUSSP, assesses the volume and geographical orientation of African emigration against unproven perceptions that African migration is massive and increasing, and mainly directed toward Europe.

Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas use the Global Bilateral Migration Database and flow data from the DEMIG project to study both the presence of emigrants abroad and the recent evolution of African migrants’ arrivals in several major countries in Europe, North America and Oceania.

Contradicting the popular notion of a ‘continent on the move’, the research demonstrates that African migration is relatively modest in scope and geographical reach; African migrants overwhelmingly migrate within Africa. While emigration from the poorest countries is predominantly directed towards neighbouring countries, the intensity of emigration out of Africa is increasing, particularly from countries with relatively higher levels of human and economic development.

Higher income, education and access to information all increase people’s capabilities and aspirations to migrate. The findings suggest this trend is likely to continue in the future. At least part of this emigration is likely to be directed at Europe, although this is typically dependent on labour opportunities and growth in this region. Restrictive policies aiming at reducing immigration in Europe are unlikely to be effective in countering these structural trends.

Read the full article