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The Annals of Regional Science

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 63–89 | Cite as

Immigrants’ location choice in Belgium

  • Hubert Jayet
  • Glenn Rayp
  • Ilse Ruyssen
  • Nadiya Ukrayinchuk
Original Paper

Abstract

This paper analyzes international migration streams to Belgian municipalities between 1994 and 2007. The Belgian population register constitutes a rich and unique database of yearly migrant inflows and stocks broken down by nationality, allowing us to empirically explain the location choice of newly arriving immigrants at the municipality level. Specifically, we aim at separating the network effect from other location-specific characteristics such as local labor or housing market conditions and the presence of public amenities. Our main contribution to the migration literature is to model labor and housing market variables as operating at different levels, assuming that immigrants first select a region roughly corresponding to a labor market and subsequently choose a municipality within this region that maximizes their utility. Among other things, this allows us to shed new light on the still ongoing discussion in the literature concerning the impact of labor market characteristics on the location of immigrants. We find that the spatial repartition of immigrants in Belgium is determined by both network effects and local characteristics. The relative importance of the determinants of location choice varies by nationality, as expected, but for all nationalities, local factors matter more than networks.

JEL Classification

F22 J61 R23 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors are much indebted to comments on an earlier draft of this paper by two anonymous referees. We are grateful to participants to the “Economics of Global Interactions: New Perspectives on Trade, Factor Mobility and Development Conference” (Bari, 2011), “North American Regional Science Council Conference” (Miami, 2011), “Annual Conference of the European Regional Science Association” (Lausanne, 2011), “18th International Panel Data Conference” (Paris, 2012), “Norface Migration: Global Development, New Frontiers” (London, 2013) as well as research seminars at SHERPPA (Ghent University) and IRES (Université Catholique de Louvain). Responsibility for any remaining errors lies with the authors.

Supplementary material

168_2016_761_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (4.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 4271 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculté des Sciences Economiques et SocialesUniversité de Lille - LEM CNRS UMR 9221Villeneuve d’AscqFrance
  2. 2.Faculty of Business and EconomicsGhent University - SHERPPAGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, Politiques et SocialesUniversité de Lille - LEM CNRS UMR 9221LilleFrance

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