Julia Kleinewiese
To migrate or not to migrate? The question of how cohesiveness and discrimination affect migration intentions

IAB-ECSR interdisciplinary conference "Refugee migration and integration revisited: lessons from the recent past, (virtual conference), May 27th to May 28th, 2021

It may not come as a surprise that social dynamics in and between social groups affect the likelihood that people will migrate from one country to another. However, it may come as a surprise that major factors and mechanisms of this appear to be the same for both host and immigrant persons’ intention to migrate.

At least, the results of the analysis of a quantitative survey conducted in Lebanon in 2019 (N = 1 192) – with the Lebanese host society (n = 506) and with Syrian refugee migrants (n = 686) – indicate that this is the case. The research builds on the hypothesis that social dynamics – such as cohesion and discrimination – in a society (and between specific subgroups) are drivers of a mechanism that can both increase and reduce the likelihood of migrating onward (e.g. to Germany). Such drivers include threat through discrimination and dimensions of social cohesiveness (e.g. belonging, connectedness). The hypothesized mechanism builds on previous literature on in- and outgroup behavior, social cohesion and situational threats.

The main part of the analysis is conducted by means of several multilevel regression models, including both main factors, interactions and control variables. The results support the existence of the postulated social mechanisms affecting migration intentions. This provides a framework for future more in-depth research on the “black-box” of the respective mechanisms.