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This project develops new theoretical and empirical approaches to gain a fundamental understanding of the relation between development processes and human migration. While prior analyses focused on a limited number of economic and demographic ‘predictor’ variables, this project applies a broader concept of development to examine how internal and international migration trends and patterns are shaped by wider social, economic, technological and political transformations.

How do processes of development and social transformation shape human migration? More specifically, how does development affect the geographical orientation, timing, composition and volume of both internal and international migration?

The relation between development and human mobility is highly contested. While economic development in poor countries and areas is usually seen as the most effective way to reduce migration, other studies suggest that development actually increases migration. However, evidence has remained highly inconclusive so far because of theoretical and methodological limitations.


This will be achieved through (i) theory-building (reconceptualising migration as an intrinsic part of broader development processes) enabling the formulation of appropriate hypotheses; (ii) quantitative tests drawing on new, innovative databases on international and internal migration flow and stocks; and (iii) mixed method case-studies of six countries (Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Italy, Morocco, and the Netherlands) representing different development-migration trajectories over the 19th and 20th centuries.

This project is scientifically ground-breaking by fundamentally shifting our understanding of how long-term development processes shape human migration. This is also relevant for policy by challenging popular understandings of migration as a development failure and to make more realistic assessments of how future global change may affect migration.




Fieldwork-based case studies will be conducted in six to seven countries from around the world representing different development-migration trajectories and ‘phases’ (drawing on transition theory) over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These cases will provide in-depth insights into the evolution of mobility systems consisting of distinct, multi-layered but functionally interrelated forms of internal and international migration, and how their distinct evolution can be explained from variations in broader development processes.

Complementing the country-level analyses, local within-country case studies will provide vital evidence on the long-term evolution of complex migration and wider mobility systems, and how this evolution can be explained from the character of and variations in broader development processes. The MADE Project is currently conducting research in the following countries: Ethiopia, Morocco, Italy, Brazil, Japan and the Netherlands.


made Publications

Interested in reading more about this project? Visit the MADE website!

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