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Migrant destination decision making

In July 2016, Seefar conducted a survey of migrants who had recently settled in European countries to determine if migrants changed their destination preference once they arrived in Europe. The study also identified where and why migrants changed their mind.

The migrants surveyed were selected if they had:

  • Settled in The United Kingdom, The Netherlands,Germany, or a combination of other European countries including France, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Sweden and Denmark;
  • arrived in the above destination country in the past 2 years;
  • either applied for, or received asylum in, a European country;
  • migrated irregularly (e.g. did not fly legally to the destination country); and
  • migrated from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria or Sudan.

Seefar conducted the study to test the hypothesis that migrants only commit to a destination country after they arrive in Europe.

We found that more than one-third of respondents said they changed their destination preference after arriving in Europe. Within that group, The Netherlands and Germany are the most common destinations for migrants who change destination preference after reaching Europe. Migrants were also asked in which city they made their final decision. Seefar discovered that Eritrean and Sudanese migrants primarily make their final decision on their destination country once they arrive in Rome or Milan. A majority of Afghans make their final decision on destination country after reaching Athens or Vienna, while a large proportion of Syrians make their final decision on destination country as early as Istanbul or in Paris.

The ability to speak the destination country language is an insignificant factor in making destination decisions once in Europe, except for those travelling to the UK. Seefar discovered friends and family in Europe as the biggest influence on the ultimate choice of destination country by migrants. At the same time, smugglers being in the right place at the right time in key European cities have a surprisingly big influence on where migrants ultimately decide to seek asylum.

Further destination country-specific insights are available from this research. Please contact Seefar to discuss your interests.

Tagged in:
Displaced people Europe European Union Migration Research and surveys Strategic communications
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