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Study reveals that migration within Africa has decreased

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Posted December 15, 2014

Image of Africans desperately trying to escape their homes is popular in the European media. However, news reports dramatically portraying exile from Black continent rarely rely on the scientific data.

Image credit: webbetravel via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Image credit: webbetravel via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

“Contradicting conventional interpretations of African migration being essentially driven by poverty, violence and underdevelopment, increasing migration out of Africa seems rather to be driven by processes of development and social transformation which have increased Africans’ capabilities and aspirations to migrate, a trend which is likely to continue in the future,” Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas at the University of Oxford say.

Despite the fact that movement of Africa’s inhabitants is very important topic not only for African, but also for other countries, this process is underexplored. “What has been particularly lacking so far, is macro-data that allows to map the overall evolution of the migration patterns from, to and within Africa over the past decades,” the scientists working at International Migration Institute say. In order to fill this research gap, Flahaux and de Haas explored quantitative dataset revealing trends of these processes since the 1960’s.

On the one hand, they discovered that intensity of migration within Africa has strongly decreased. How this unexpected observation can be explained? “The paradox of declining intra-African migration might partly be explained by the fact that decolonisation and the concomitant antagonism between newly created states may have indeed increased intra-continental barriers to movement,” authors of the study conjecture.

On the other hand, the expatriation from Africa increased. Nevertheless, rate of extra-continental migration remains much slower than the rate of intra-continental migration. Although, Europe is the most popular destination place, other regions, such as North America, Oceania and Gulf countries, attract considerable proportion of immigrants as well.

“More marginal, poorer or landlocked countries tend to have lower absolute and relative levels of extra-continental migration, and their migration is primarily directed towards other African countries,” the researchers report. This finding support so called transition theory, according to which individuals from poorer regions have less abilities to travel and travel shorter distances. In addition, data indicates that higher skilled and wealthier individuals have more possibilities for geographical mobility.

Article: Flahaux M-L. and Haas H., 2014, African Migration: Exploring the role of development and states, Working Papers, Paper 105, source link.

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