Using life event history data collected by the MAFE project survey of migrants in Europe and return migrants in their countries of origin, this article aims to analyse, first, the initial return intentions of Senegalese and Congolese migrants to Europe, and second, the realization of those intentions. The results reveal that at the time of their arrival, individuals who migrate to Europe with the objective of acquiring resources for later use in their country of origin plan to return there. However, if the situation in their country of origin seriously deteriorates, as was the case in the Democratic Republic of Congo from the 1990s onward, migrants tend to plan to remain permanently in Europe. Furthermore, the more difficult it is to migrate to Europe, the less likely migrants are to plan to return. Finally, worsening political and economic conditions in the origin country and restrictive immigration policies in host countries discourage migrants who initially plan to return home from following through on those plans.
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