About 1.4 million refugees and irregular migrants arrived in Europe in 2015 and 2016, but little is known about their socio-demographic characteristics and motivations. This column presents the first large-scale evidence on why those who crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 and 2016 had left their home countries. While the vast majority were escaping conflict, the main motivation for a significant number of migrants from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Pakistan was a desire to seek out better economic opportunities. People who are educated to secondary or tertiary level are more likely to migrate than people with lower levels of education, particularly when fleeing a major conflict, and these people are more likely to head for countries that have more comprehensive migrant integration policies.
Cevat Giray Aksoy, Panu Poutvaara