Familiar Faces, Familiar Places: The role of family networks and previous experience for Albanian migrants
Using data from the 2003 Albania Panel Survey, the paper sets out to achieve two main objectives. First, we fully characterize the evolution of Albanian international migration since the fall of Communism in 1990. We distinguish between permanent and temporary migration, and between the two principal destinations, Greece and Italy. Second, we explore, using multivariate analysis, what individual, household and community level factors influence the current decision to migrate internationally, focusing on the role of previous personal experience and family networks. We find evidence of important changes over time in the pull and push factors that drive migration flows. While early on in the transition political and economic factors were predominant, over time personal experience and household migration networks assumed a fundamental role, facilitating growth in migration even in times of the relatively stable economic conditions. Other individual, household, and community factors have an important role in the decision to migrate, and these factors vary by type of migration and destination. Furthermore, the spatial configuration of migration is also changing: both temporary and permanent migration are expanding into new parts of the country. The results have important policy implications. First, policies aimed at controlling migration are likely to be less effective where networks have already developed or where engrained patterns of repeat migration are established. Second, despite increasing legality, migration, particularly for newcomers, is still difficult, risky and often illegal, which fosters a climate of exploitation and abuse. Third, we find that highly educated individuals have a higher propensity to migrate permanently, which constitutes a serious potential risk in terms of brain drain.
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