Frank Kalter, Gisela Will
Social Capital in Polish-German Migration Decision-Making: Complementing the Ethnosurvey with a Prospective View

The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2016: 666, Heft July 2016, S. 46-63
ISSN: 0002-7162 (print); 1552-3349 (online)

In this article we use a combination of retrospective and prospective data from the Polish Migration Project to examine the effect of social capital on the likelihood of migrating to Germany. We derive hypotheses from social capital theory about how personal connections to people with migratory experience affect the probability of migration, and we specify models to be estimated using both the retrospective and prospective data. Estimates of retrospective event history models con- firm prior findings about social capital’s influence on migration decisions, and these findings are also generally confirmed using prospective data, even when potentially confounding variables are controlled. The prospective data also enable estimation of a two-stage decision model in which people first come to consider migration as an option and then rationally consider whether to depart. The estimates suggest that weak social ties are especially influential in predicting whether migration is considered, while strong ties are important in the decision to move.