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This paper analyses how fundamental transformations of Moroccan society over the past century have shaped Morocco’s mobility complex and how migration has affected and accelerated these transformation processes in its own right. Economic transitions and the concomitant demise of subsistence-based agrarian livelihoods, urbanization processes and demographic transitions, increasing education and rapid cultural change have increased all forms of migratory and non-migratory mobility within and from Morocco, particularly through large-scale rural-to-urban migration as well as rapidly increasing emigration to Europe. While earlier patterns seem largely consistent with mobility transition theory, the predicted decrease in emigration levels has not occurred, as, since the 1990s, Morocco has entered a migration plateau of persistently high emigration despite significant increases in living standards, a slowing down of internal migration and increasing immigration. Continuously high levels of emigration can be explained by a growing disjuncture between sluggish and uneven economic development that has mainly benefitted certain regions and economic elites on the one hand, and fast sociocultural change across all social classes and regions on the other. This disjuncture has rapidly increased youth’s aspirations for lifestyles and freedoms that they find difficult to imagine in Morocco, but at the same time reshapes Morocco’s internal mobility patterns and attracts growing numbers of immigrants.



Working paper


International Migration Institute

Publication Date





1 - 47


Morocco, social transformation, development, migration, mobility transition