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This paper examines how migration is influenced by changing ideas about welfare provisions and how communities envision the role of the state as welfare provider. It does so through a case study of the Todgha Valley, an oasis in South Morocco where, after 60 years of migration history, a culture of migration emerged. The paper explores the meso- and macrolevel political and cultural transformations that shaped the valley’s welfare-related cultural repertoires and explain the changing ways in which welfare provisions drive migration over time in a particular place. To probe such transformations, the paper combines three theoretical components: Inglehart’s postmaterialism theory, the social transformations framework, and Zelinsky’s mobility transition theory. The paper draws on a literature review, empirical qualitative and quantitative data collected over 22 years, and secondary data. It shows that the meaning of migration has changed over time and is currently understood as a possible remedy to persistently unfulfilled aspirations to have rights. The paper contributes to debates on the links between welfare and migration in two ways. First, it broadens the scope of analysis of welfare as a driver of migration. Second, it highlights how migration feedbacks and changes in welfare policies shape perceptions and expectations of how much the state should provide. Migration tends to be a more individualistic and longer-term project than in the past, and intrinsic aspirations to access social rights have become more explicit. The paper also shows that once cultures of migration emerge, they are not fixed even if they persist; the underlying forces sustaining migration aspirations might shift with other social transformations and more cyclical changes.



Working paper


International Migration Institute

Publication Date





1 - 28


Welfare magnet, culture of migration, migration drivers, social transformations, Morocco