Return Migration as Failure or Success?
Hein de Haas, Tineke Fokkema, Mohamed Fassi Fihri
Different migration theories generate competing hypotheses with regard to determinants of return migration. While neoclassical migration theory associates migration to the failure to integrate at the destination, the new economics of labour migration sees return migration as the logical stage after migrants have earned sufficient assets and knowledge and to invest in their origin countries. The projected return is then likely to be postponed for sustained or indefinite periods if integration is unsuccessful. So, from an indication or result of integration failure return is rather seen as a measure of success. Drawing on recent survey data (N = 2,832), this article tests these hypotheses by examining the main determinants of return intention among Moroccan migrants across Europe. The results indicate that structural integration through labour market participation, education and the maintenance of economic and social ties with receiving countries do not significantly affect return intentions. At the same time, investments and social ties to Morocco are positively related, and socio-cultural integration in receiving countries is negatively related to return migration intentions. The mixed results corroborate the idea that there is no uniform process of (return) migration and that competing theories might therefore be partly complementary.