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Return migration: the European experience

Dustmann, C.; Bentolila, S.; Faini, R.; (1996) Return migration: the European experience. Economic Policy , 11 (22) pp. 213-250.

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Labour immigration contributed strongly to Europe's post-war economic development. In contrast to migration to North America or Australia, these movements of labour were always seen as temporary by sending and receiving countries, and, at least initially, also by most migrants. Although many migrants stayed more permanently, return migration is a highly relevant feature in practice. Its significant role and the underlying behavioural mechanisms are not well understood, however. It is therefore not too surprising that most policy measures taken in the 1970s and 1980s to encourage return migration failed. The paper takes the view that much can be learned from recent European history. Temporary immigration schemes may be helpful to moderate illegal migration and to foster East--West economic relationships. Given the tight policies in the European Union, short-term migration seems to be the only channel to open the door slightly. The paper reviews the European history of return migration and the policy regimes in important European labour migration-receiving countries. It also provides new empirical evidence on the determinants of return behaviour and successful return. Return propensities of migrants increase with the age at entry, but decrease with the number of years of residence. Conditional on having decided to return, however, the remaining years in the country decrease with years of residence and, keeping years of residence constant, with entry age. Return incentives may cause dissatisfaction and reintegration problems in the home country. The results support the view that economic benefits are the larger, the earlier it is clear whether migration is temporary or permanent.

Type: Article
Title: Return migration: the European experience
Publisher version: http://www.economic-policy.org/backissues.asp
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Dept of Economics
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/16468
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