Migration to European countries: A structural explanation of patterns, 1980-2004

Marc Hooghe*, Ann Trappers, Bart Meuleman, T. Reeskens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


Various theoretical approaches have provided us with insights to explain the pattern of migration flows. Economic theory considers migration to be a reaction to labor market and economic incentives. Cultural theories predict that migration flows will occur according to a center-periphery pattern, while social network analysis assumes that migrants follow already established migration networks. We test these three approaches simultaneously, using OECD and Eurostat data on the migrant inflow into the European countries between 1980 and 2004. The analysis demonstrates that migration flows react to economic incentives, mainly with regard to the labor market, but also to cultural and colonial linkages. There is no indication that the importance of the colonial past is declining over time. The response of migration patterns to shortages in the labor market is shown to be highly efficient, while the analysis shows that immigrants are not attracted by high levels of social expenditure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-504
JournalThe International Migration Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes




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