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Since the mid-1960s and following the signing of agreements with northwest European countries to recruit guest workers, Morocco has experienced large-scale emigration of mostly unskilled migrants. Moroccan migration was initially mainly oriented towards France but also increasingly towards Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and, since the mid-1980s, Italy and Spain. Contrary to expectations and despite the economic recession after the 1973 oil embargo, relatively few Moroccan migrants returned and many ended up settling in their new countries. This process was accompanied by large-scale family reunification. The unfavourable political and economic prospects in Morocco, combined with the discontinuation of the ‘return option’ to Europe through increasingly restrictive immigration policies, explain why many migrants decided to stay in Europe. So, paradoxically, the freeze on recruitment of new guest workers beginning in the early 1970s stimulated settlement rather than discouraging it (Entzinger, 1985; Fargues, 2004; de Haas, 2007).

More information


Book chapter


Edward Elgar

Publication Date



International Handbooks on Gender series


208 - 230

Total pages



development studies, development economics, family and gender policy, migration, economics and finance, development economics, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, family and gender policy, migration, urban and regional studies, migration