Who wants to leave? Global survey evidence on how individual emigration aspirations differ between peaceful and conflict-affected contexts

Ruhe, Constantin / Jana Kuhnt
External Publications (2023)

in: International Migration Review, first published 04.07.2023

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/01979183231181576
Open access

Does conflict change who desires to emigrate? Surprisingly, we still lack globally comparable empirical evidence on whether the types of individuals who want to leave their country differ between peaceful and conflict-affected locations. In this paper, we address this gap. We analyze unique survey data with global coverage to assess whether individual-level determinants of international permanent emigration aspirations differ during intrastate armed conflict compared to peaceful times and regions. We argue that armed conflict acts as an equalizer that attenuates the effect which individual economic and demographic variables have on international permanent emigration aspirations in peaceful contexts. As a result, aspirations to relocate permanently to another country increase among those demographic groups which are less inclined to move in peaceful situations. Our results indicate that variables related to a longer-term economic cost-benefit analysis, such as income or age, significantly lose importance for international permanent emigration aspirations in conflict situations. This demographic-specific effect explains an overall increase in emigration aspirations during conflicts. On average, we find no evidence that conflict increases the aspirations of all respondents to permanently move to another country. In contrast to income and age, the effects of demographic variables such as gender, household composition, or marital status are not significantly different across contexts.

About the authors

Ruhe, Constantin

Political Scientist


Kuhnt, Jana

Development Economist


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