Why people move: understanding the drivers and trends of migration to Europe

Research reports and studies
December 2015
Clare Cummings, Julia Pacitto, Deletta Lauro and Marta Foresti

It is time for an effective and durable policy response to the current ‘migration crisis’ in Europe.

Such a response, however, requires a better and broader understanding of what drives people to migrate in the first place. There is much debate about their motivations, and about possible solutions to the ‘crisis’ – debate that often leads to conflicting messages and theories.

To shine a light on this issue and provide some clarity, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has used a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) approach to assess the quality of the evidence that is already available to identify what drives migration to Europe.

Illustration: without money and information, migrants and refugees cannot escape poverty or conflict
Illustration: refugees and migrations share similar reasons for attempting dangerous journeys to Europe: safety, livelihoods and aspirations
Illustration: better economic prospects in poor countries actually makes it more likely that people will migrate
Illustration: tightening borders doesn't stop migration