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Illegality is in the Eye of the Beholder: Experimental Evidence on Criminality and Risks of Irregular Migration

Schwartz, C; Simon, M; Hudson, D; Johnson, S; (2016) Illegality is in the Eye of the Beholder: Experimental Evidence on Criminality and Risks of Irregular Migration. In: Proceedings of the 6th Annual Workshop on Comparative Approaches to Immigration, Ethnicity, and Integration. Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University: New Haven, CT, USA. Green open access

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Abstract

Why do so many migrants decide to live clandestinely in foreign countries despite the risks involved? Existing work on illegal migration is closely tied to economic incentives, but we expect that individual perceptions and attitudes represent an important, but highly underrepresented, component of illegal migrant behaviour. We identify three psychological motivations underlying illegal migration: perceived necessity, considerations of risk, and norms that condone law-breaking. We test each mechanism through the analysis of two list experiments in Jamaica, an origin country with a disproportionately high migrant population and a wide variety of migration channels. We examine two important strategies available to migrants: falsifying documents and working under-the-table, and we find that the psychological motivations behind each strategy vary substantially. Support for falsifying documents is driven by perceived necessity, and support for working under-the-table is largely a function of the perceived risks and legitimacy of immigration laws. Our findings suggest that public policies and empirical research that conflate illegal migrant strategies may be incomplete or ineffective. The full picture may only come together after these strategies are decomposed.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Illegality is in the Eye of the Beholder: Experimental Evidence on Criminality and Risks of Irregular Migration
Event: 6th Annual Workshop on Comparative Approaches to Immigration, Ethnicity, and Integration
Location: Yale University, Connecticut, United States
Dates: 14 June 2016 - 15 June 2016
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://isps.yale.edu/conferences/comparative-appr...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1530972
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