Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Making migration and migration policy decisions amidst societal transformations (PACES)

PACES is an innovative, inter-disciplinary and multi-level research project that asks, How do changes in society, individual life experiences and migration policy shape decisions to stay or to migrate over time and across countries? And how can this knowledge inform future migration policies and governance?

2023 - 2026
Katharina Natter
Horizon Europe Grant

Simona Vezzoli & Thea Hilhorst (ISS The Hague, Netherlands (Project lead)); Hein de Haas & Dominique Jolivet (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands); Antoine Pécoud (Université Sorbonne Paris, France); Anne-Marie Jeannet (University of Milan, Italy); Juan David Sempere Souvannavong & Mari Jesus Cabezon Fernandez (Universidad de Alicante, Spain); Oliver Bakewell & Ralitza Dimova (University of Manchester, United Kingdom); Lucia Mýtna Kurekov, Jana Papcunová & Miroslav Štefáni (Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia); Kerilyn Schewel (University of Duke, United States); Hervé Nicolle (Samuel Hall East Africa Limited, Nairobi, Kenya); Hanne Beirens, Jasmijn Slootjes, Ravenna Sohst, Camille Le Coz & Belen Zanzuchi (Migration Policy Institute Europe, Brussels, Belgium); Miriam Boudraa (International Training Centre, International Labour Organization, Turin, Italy); Roberto Forin & Jane Linekar (Danish Refugee Council Mixed Migration Centre, Geneva, Switzerland); Miriama Bošelová & Marta Králiková (Mareena, Bratislava, Slovakia)

In the last few decades migration has been framed as a challenge for the EU and its Member States. EU and national migration policymakers have become preoccupied with predicting and controlling migration to the continent, leading to the proliferation of financial instruments, strategies and initiatives. This reactive approach fails to consider a set of emerging social changes, such as population aging and economic transformations that are likely to shape future migration drivers, and the need for migration policies to be forward-looking rather than reactive.

Moreover, these policy interventions are often not based on research evidence on how people make migration decisions. Instead, narratives and policies follow general assumptions that migration is essentially driven by poverty, inequality or conflict. Such simplifications reduce the complexity of migration decision-making.

While research from across the social sciences has greatly advanced insights in the nature, causes and impacts of migration processes over the last decades, migration policymaking often makes scarce use of this knowledge. To fill this gap, PACES examines the interplay between societal change, individual life experiences and migration policies in shaping decisions to stay or migrate in origin communities and in places of transit and destination. It then studies the mechanisms that underpin migration policies and explores alternative approaches to migration policies that better account for the realities of migrants’ decision-making processes.

Concentrating empirically on African migrations to Europe, the focus of many EU and national migration policy interventions, PACES innovates academic and policy debates by studying migration and migration policy decision-making as interlinked rather than separate processes.

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