Settlement or Mobility? Immigrants’ Re-migration Decision-Making Process in a High-Income Country Setting

  • Ilka SteinerEmail author


In the context of important migration flows within the EU/EFTA countries, understanding the process of migration decision-making is central to better comprehending current migration patterns in today’s legal context of free movement of persons. By means of newly collected survey data, this paper examines the emigration intentions and plans of German immigrants living in Switzerland. This migrant group presents a lower duration of residence at emigration than other nationalities and is highly educated and integrated in the labour market. The results show that labour market considerations prevail over family obligations. Furthermore, they confirm the heterogeneity between groups regarding emigration intentions, a finding that cannot be confirmed for emigration planning. Moreover, whereas emigration intentions are explained by perceived opportunity differentials and wishful thinking between the place of residence and the destination, emigration planning is based on real opportunities. Migration policy and, more specifically, integration policy have a small impact on emigration, since planning an emigration is triggered by external or personal factors.


Stated-preferences International migration Re-migration Intra-European migration Free movement of persons Intentions and plans 



Thanks go to Didier Ruedin, Rosita Fibbi and Gianni D’Amato from the SFM in Neuchâtel, to Andreas Ette and Lenore Sauer from the BiB in Wiesbaden, and to Philippe Wanner and Adrien Remund and Manuela Schicka for their valuable advices.


This work was financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) under Grant 100017_156563 and supported for English proofreading by the Institute of Demography and Socioeconomics IDESO of the University of Geneva.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Demography and Socioeconomics IDESOUniversity of GenevaGenève-4Switzerland

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