Refugees’ self-selection into Europe: who migrates where?

By Cevat Giray Aksoy and Panu Poutvaara


A new EBRD Working Paper (number 226)

About 1.4 million refugees and irregular migrants arrived in Europe in 2015 and 2016. But who goes where? Using data from the International Organization for Migration and Gallup World Polls, we look at the demographic characteristics of refugees and irregular migrants, the reasons why they emigrate, where they originate and how they decide on their destination countries. We find that refugees and female irregular migrants tend to be more educated than the national average, while male irregular migrants are not. And we show that predicted income strongly increases the probability of emigration from all country groups, which is highest for migrants from countries suffering a major conflict. We also analyse how border controls affect the choice of destination country.

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