Can Emigration Intentions Predict Actual Behaviors? The Case of Recently Arrived Immigrants in Switzerland

Philippe Wanner , University of Geneva

We use original linked data in order to better understand the relationship between emigration intentions and actual behaviors, and more particularly to verify if emigration intentions can predict actual migrants’ return in Switzerland. To do so, we compare self-declared intentions of emigration with actual departures during the two years following a survey. Then we analyze in which extent the factors associated of both dimensions are similar or not. Results show that 96% of migrants who wanted to stay in Switzerland actually stayed, as 71% of those who wanted to leave the country actually left. Overall, intentions can be considered a good predictor of behaviors and the factors associated of migration intentions and actual behaviors are almost the same. However, intentions reflect personal feelings at the time of the survey and sometimes also reflect the potential to remain in Switzerland from a legal point of view. Behaviors are more rational in the sense that migrants’ reflections on their actual situations is more profound, and their choices to stay in Switzerland or to leave are thus influenced by rational elements such as their labor market situation or family constraints.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 78. Flash Session Migration and Migrants