The Migration Policy Centre (MPC) conducts theoretical, empirical and policy research on the transnational governance of international migration, asylum and mobility. This page provides an overview of our major research themes and projects with links to more information. For a list of our research publications, click here.

Public attitudes to migration and migration policies
Migration governance
Labour markets, welfare states, and migration policies
Border enforcement, migration controls, and mobility practices
Migration, foreign aid, and development
Linking research, debates, and policies
Public attitudes to migration and migration policies

MPC research on this theme aims to understand the characteristics, determinants, and effects of public attitudes to migration and migration policies. How do public attitudes to immigration vary across countries, and how have they changed over time? What are the determinants of people’s views on migration and different types of migrants? What are the characteristics and determinants of people’s preferences with regard to migration, asylum, and integration policies? What are the implications for the politics and governance of migration and asylum?

Selected recent publications and working papers (2018/19):

Migration governance

MPC research on this theme explores both the meaning and practice of migration governance. Through analysis of meaning, our research analyses how decision-makers and others involved in making or shaping migration policy understand the challenges they face and how these understandings inform actions. By practice, we mean the practical outputs and outcomes of these understandings as they take shape in the forms of laws, policies and other types of action. Our research is truly global looking across states and regions and also genuinely multilevel in that we actively seek to connect the local, the national and the transnational.

Selected recent publications and working papers (2018/19):

Labour markets, welfare states, and migration policies

There is a large research literature on the impacts of immigration on the labour markets and welfare states of high-income countries. While much of this research has focused on single countries, MPC research explores how these effects vary across countries with different socio-economic institutions (e.g. different welfare states and labour market regulations). We also aim to analyse potential effects in the opposite direction, i.e. how national labour market and welfare institutions shape the characteristics, effects, and politics of migration and mobility. This question is highly relevant to national and supra-national policy debates, yet it remains relatively under-explored in existing research. What are the relationships between national welfare states and policies toward labour migrants and asylum seekers? What are the effects of cross-country variations in national institutions for the transnational governance of migration (e.g. for common EU policies on free movement and migration, or for the global governance of migration)?

Selected recent publications and working papers (2018/19):

Border enforcement, migration controls, and mobility practices

Despite its ubiquity in migration discourse, mobility practices like migrant smuggling, the facilitation of migration, and migrants’ secondary movements have been scarcely researched. Furthermore, most examinations on these topics rely on secondary sources, and fail to incorporate the perspectives and challenges faced by those directly involved and/or impacted by said practices and their criminalization. The MPC is at the forefront of this research field, generating empirical and critical work that is also interdisciplinary and global in nature. Our work, incorporating participatory methods and community perspectives, provides nuanced data and responses concerning the impact of migration enforcement practices, the organization of smuggling facilitation, the use and reliance of technology by migrants in the course of their journeys, among others. It also documents legal challenges and responses to migration controls, and the latter’s impact on human and civil rights.

Selected recent publications and working papers(2018/19):

Migration, foreign aid, and development

How do foreign aid and development affect migration flows? Do more foreign aid and higher levels of development lead to less or more out-migration? These questions are highly relevant to public policy debates in Europe and other high-income countries, yet they remain relatively unexplored empirically. Nevertheless, there appears to be some consensus in the small research literature on this issue that the impact of foreign aid on migration flows is often positive, especially in the lowest-income countries. This is based on the idea that there is an inverse U-shaped relationship between migration and development (frequently referred to as the “migration hump”): as GDP per capita rises, emigration first increases (by loosening the budget constraints of poor households) and then decreases after a certain threshold is reached. Our research aims to provide more in-depth analyses of these relationships. We ask the following questions: How do different types of aid affect migration flows? How does foreign aid affect the out-migration of different groups of migrants? Under what conditions does the “migration hump” (not) apply? What are the policy implications?

Selected recent publications and working papers (2018/19):

Linking research, debates, and policies

What is the use of research in public debates and policy-making on immigration and integration? Why are there such large gaps between migration debates and migration realities, and how can they be reduced? To address these questions, we analyse the links between research, public debates (including media and public opinion), and policy-making on migration, in both high- and lower-income countries. Our analysis aims to critically engage and go beyond the popular ideas of “evidence based policy-making” and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, “post-truth politics”. We seek to understand how and why research does, or does not, influence public debates and policy-making on migration at local, national, and supra-national levels. We are particularly interested in exploring how the relationships between research, debates, and policy vary across countries and different levels of governance.

Selected recent publications (2018/19):