The International Migration Review: Advancing the Research Frontier on International Migration for 50 Years and Beyond

The International Migration Review: Advancing the Research Frontier on International Migration for 50 Years and Beyond

For 50 years, the International Migration Review (IMR) has led social science research and analysis in the field of international migration, population dynamics, ethnic group relations and refugee movements. In celebration of its 50th Anniversary in 2014, the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) published a special Golden Anniversary Edition. The issue commemorates IMR’s pioneering scholarship by featuring ten original papers, authored by leading migration scholars in the field, which advance the research frontier on international migration. The papers cover varying cross-cutting topics as well as emerging issues, including: population and spatial dynamics; migration decision making; issues of resources, inequality, transnational processes; governance and mediation; new destinations and integration, gender and the second generation.

The issue entitled, “International Migration Scholarship in the 21st Century: Advancing the Frontier of Scholarship and Knowledge,” is edited by Jørgen Carling (Peace Research Institute Oslo), Jennifer Lee (University of California, Irvine) and Pia Orrenius (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas).

All articles are available for free online through the end of 2015 via IMR’s Wiley Online Library at The Golden Anniversary Edition is also available for free in print upon request to [email protected]. For print edition orders by mail, shipping and handling fees will be charged.

The International Migration Review at 50: Reflecting on Half a Century of International Migration Research and Looking Ahead

Jennifer Lee, Jørgen Carling and Pia Orrenius

When the International Migration Review was established half a century ago, international migration was a peripheral area of research and migration issues were far less prominent on policy agendas than they are today. This essay introduces the 50th Anniversary Issue of the International Migration Review and begins by identifying seven main areas of change in migration research and migration trends during the journal’s lifetime. The editors examine changes in the geographical distribution of authorship of IMR articles. They also explore the IMR‘s current positioning in the scientific landscape by analyzing citation relationships with other journals. The editors account for how the papers in the Golden Anniversary edition were selected and present each one. In the final section of the article, they look ahead and suggest new frontiers in international migration research. Among the research themes that they foresee as increasingly important are connections between migration and inequality, and the growth of migration flows that are driven by humanitarian crises, but not accommodated by the international refugee regime.

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The Cross-country Determinants of Potential and Actual Migration

FrédéricDocquier, Giovanni Peri and Ilse Ruyssen

In this study, the authors use cross-country bilateral data to quantify a two-step process of international migration and its aggregate determinants. Using information on potential migrants from World Gallup surveys and on actual migrants from national censuses for 138 origin countries and 30 major destinations between 2000 and 2010, the authors analyze economic, policy, cultural and network determinants of migration. They find that the size of the network of previous migrants and the average income per person at the destination are crucial determinants in the size of the pool of potential migrants. The authors also find that college-educated migrants exhibit greater actual emigration rates mainly because they realize better chances for them by migrating, rather than because they are more willing to migrate.

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Reconsidering Migration and Class

Nicholas Van Hear

While once a mainstay of social science, class has lately been eclipsed in much of migration studies by consideration of other forms of social difference, affinity and allegiance such as ethnicity, gender, generation and religion. This article proposes renewing attention on the part class plays in shaping migration – particularly who is able to move and to where. It argues that the form of migration and ultimately its outcomes are shaped by the resources that would-be migrants can muster. In turn, the capacity to mobilize such resources is largely determined by socioeconomic background or class. Drawing on Bourdieu, class can be conceived in terms of the disposal of different forms of capital – economic, social and cultural. Having access to combinations of such capital shapes the routes and channels migrants can follow, the destinations they can reach and their life chances after migration. The article first reflects briefly on ideas of class in social science and sketches treatment of mobility in the migration literature, before considering the ways in which class, mobility and immobility shape each other. The article concludes by considering the interplay between migration, class and collective action among those who move and those who stay, against the background of broader currents of social change and transformation.

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Migration Infrastructure

BiaoXiang and Johan Lindquist

Based on the authors’ long-term field research on low-skilled labor migration from China and Indonesia, this article establishes that more than ever labor migration is intensively mediated. Migration infrastructure — the systematically interlinked technologies, institutions and actors that facilitate and condition mobility — serves as a concept to unpack the process of mediation. Migration can be more clearly conceptualized through a focus on infrastructure rather than on state policies, the labor market or migrant social networks alone. The article also points to a trend of “infrastructural involution,” in which the interplay between different dimensions of migration infrastructure make it self-perpetuating and self-serving and impedes rather than enhances people’s migratory capability. This explains why labor migration has become both more accessible and more cumbersome in many parts of Asia since the late 1990s. The notion of migration infrastructure calls for research that is less fixated on migration as behavior or migrants as the primary subject and more concerned with broader societal transformations.

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New Immigrant Destinations in Global Context

Jamie Winders

This article calls for the study of new immigrant destinations in a global context. Although the term “new immigrant destinations” has been primarily associated with the United States, migration scholars of other regions and countries are examining new or emerging immigrant destinations and the implications of immigrant settlement in places that heretofore have had no notable foreign-born populations. This article argues that expanding the frame of reference for the study of new immigrant destinations provides greater insight into the ways that new geographies of immigrant settlement around the world are re-shaping dominant understandings of contemporary migration processes.

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Diaspora Institutions and Diaspora Governance

Alan Gamlen

Why do governments form institutions devoted to emigrants and their descendants in the diaspora? Such institutions have become a regular feature of political life in many parts of the world: Over half all UN Member States now have one. Diaspora institutions merit research because they connect new developments in the global governance of migration with new patterns of national and transnational sovereignty and citizenship and new ways of constructing individual identity in relation to new collectivities. But these institutions are generally overlooked. Migration policy is still understood as immigration policy, and research on diaspora institutions has been fragmented, case-study dominated and largely descriptive. In this article, the author reviews and extends the relevant theoretical literature and highlights empirical research priorities. The author argues that existing studies focus too exclusively on national-level interests and ideas to explain how individual states tap diaspora resources and embrace these groups within the nation-state. However, these approaches cannot explain the global spread of diaspora institutions. This, therefore, requires a comparative approach and greater attention to the role of efforts to create a coherent, but decentralized system of global governance in the area of international migration.

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Scripting Remittances: Making Sense of Money Transfers in Transnational Relationships

Jørgen Carling

This article proposes a conceptual framework for studying remittances as social transactions that can take a number of different forms. For the past three decades, the dominant framework for understanding remittance relationships has involved the continuum of senders’ motives — from altruism to self-interest. This approach has its roots in economics and has shaped much of the quantitative research on remittances. In parallel, a growing body of ethnographic research has examined transnational money transfers with perspectives and data that differ from those of economists. The insights from these ethnographic studies are valuable, but remain fragmented and marginal in research on remittances. Two key points emerge from the ethnographic literature: Remittances are at the core of composite transactions with material, emotional and relational elements, and there is great variation in the nature and logic of these transactions. The framework proposed here is designed to engage with both complexity and variation. It systematically draws upon a large body of ethnographic literature and introduces remittance scripts as an analytical tool.

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Comparing Immigrant Integration in North America and Western Europe: How Much Do the Grand Narratives Tell Us?

Richard Alba and Nancy Foner

In comparing different countries, studies often seek to account for the success of immigrant integration, or lack of it, in a small number of “grand ideas,” such as nationally specific “models” of integration, which attempt to provide overarching explanations for cross-national differences and similarities. This article evaluates five grand ideas in light of our study examining how four European (Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands) and two North American (the United States, Canada) countries are meeting the challenges of integrating immigrants and their second-generation children across a variety of domains from the labor market, to the educational system, to the polity. We conclude that while some of the grand ideas help to illuminate patterns of integration in particular domains, none provides a sufficiently encompassing explanation — and each has significant failings. Moreover, none of these ideas highlights all of the features that we argue are critical and these do not boil down to one “grand narrative.” These features are the characteristics or qualities that immigrants bring with them when they move to Europe or North America; demographic and other social and economic trends there and, perhaps most important, historically rooted social, political and economic institutions in each receiving society that create barriers as well as bridges to integration and inclusion.

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“Utter Failure” or Unity out of Diversity? Debating and Evaluating Policies of Multiculturalism

Irene Bloemraad and Matthew Wright

Across immigrant-receiving democracies, “multiculturalism” has come under assault by political decision-makers and commentators. The academic debate, while less fiery, is also heated. In this article, the authors outline the multiple meanings of “multiculturalism”: a term for demographic diversity; a political philosophy of equality or justice; a set of policies to recognize and accommodate ethno-racial and religious diversity or a public discourse recognizing and valorizing pluralism. They then review the existing empirical literature and offer some new statistical analyses to assess what the authors know about the harm or benefits of multicultural policies, focusing on sociopolitical outcomes. The authors conclude that multicultural policies appear to have some modest positive effects on sociopolitical integration for first-generation immigrants and likely little direct effect, positive or negative, on those in the second generation. On the question of majority backlash, the limited scholarship is mixed; the authors speculate that multiculturalism works best in places where both minorities and majority residents see it as part of a common national project. The article ends with a consideration of the conditions under which this happens and whether there are distinctions between “Anglo-settler” and other countries.

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The Double Disadvantage Reconsidered: Gender, Immigration, Marital Status, and Global Labor Force Participation in the 21st Century

Katharine M. Donato, Bhumika Piya, and Anna Jacobs

Although women’s representation among international migrants in many countries has risen over the last 100 years, we know far less about gender gaps in the labor force participation of immigrants across a wide span of host societies. Prior studies have established that immigrant women are doubly disadvantaged in terms of labor market outcomes in the United States, Canada and Israel. These studies suggest an intriguing question: Are there gender gaps in immigrant labor force participation across destinations countries? In this paper, the authors investigate the extent to which the double disadvantage exists for immigrant women in a variety of host countries. They also examine how marriage moderates this double disadvantage. For the United States, although the authors find that immigrant women have had the lowest labor force participation rates compared to natives and immigrant men since 1960, marital status is an important stratifying attribute that helps explain nativity differences. Extending the analysis to eight other countries reveals strong gender differences in labor force participation and shows how marriage differentiates immigrant women’s labor force entry more so than men’s.

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Does Cultural Diversity of Migrant Employees Affect Innovation?

CerenOzgen, Cornelius Peters, Annekatrin Niebuhr, Peter Nijkamp, and Jacques Poot

Increasing international labor migration has important effects on the workforce composition of firms in all migrant-receiving countries. The consequences of these changes for firm performance have attracted growing attention in recent years. In this paper, the authors focus explicitly on the impact of cultural diversity among migrant employees on the innovativeness of firms. They briefly synthesize empirical evidence from a range of contexts across Europe, North America and New Zealand. They then utilize two unique and harmonized linked employer-employee datasets to provide comparative microeconometric evidence for Germany and the Netherlands. Our panel datasets contain detailed information on the generation of new products and services, determinants of innovation success and the composition of employment in establishments of firms over the period 1999 to 2006. The authors find that innovation in both countries is predominantly determined by establishment size and industry. Moreover, obstacles encountered and organizational changes faced by firms drive innovation too. With respect to the composition of employment, the presence of high-skilled staff is most important. Cultural diversity of employees has a positive partial correlation with product innovation. The size and statistical significance of this effect depends on the econometric model specification and the country considered. We conclude from the literature synthesis and the new comparative evidence that cultural diversity of employees can make a positive, but modest and context dependent, contribution to innovation.

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To commemorate the historic milestone of IMR’s 50th Anniversary, CMS also hosted an all-day symposium around the special edition release, entitled, “International Migration Scholarship in the 21st Century: Critical Issues, Critical Questions.” The symposium featured panel presentations by the special edition guest editors and authors and closed with reflections from past, present and future IMR editors, including: H.E. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi (Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Specialised Organizations in Geneva and to the World Trade Organization), Ellen Percy Kraly (Colgate University), Douglas Gurak (Cornell University) and Mark J. Miller (University of Delaware). For more information on the event and to view presentations, video and photos, visit: