Migration Systems in Europe: Evidence From Harmonized Flow Data

Jack DeWaard, Keuntae Kim, James Raymer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Empirical tests of migration systems theory require consistent and complete data on international migration flows. Publicly available data, however, represent an inconsistent and incomplete set of measurements obtained from a variety of national data collection systems. We overcome these obstacles by standardizing the available migration reports of sending and receiving countries in the European Union and Norway each year from 2003-2007 and by estimating the remaining missing flows. The resulting harmonized estimates are then used to test migration systems theory. First, locating thresholds in the size of flows over time, we identify three migration systems within the European Union and Norway. Second, examining the key determinants of flows with respect to the predictions of migration systems theory, our results highlight the importance of shared experiences of nation-state formation, geography, and accession status in the European Union. Our findings lend support to migration systems theory and demonstrate that knowledge of migration systems may improve the accuracy of migration forecasts toward managing the impacts of migration as a source of social change in Europe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1307-1333
Number of pages27
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Jack DeWaard is supported by NICHD Training Grant T32-HD07014 and Center Grant R24-HD047873 to the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. James Raymer received support from the ESRC Research Centre for Population Change (Grant Reference RES-625-28-0001). The authors acknowledge the MIgration MOdeling for Statistical Analysis (MIMOSA) project in providing harmonized flow data for comparison, and comments from Theodore P. Gerber, Katherine J. Curtis, Jenna Nobles, Mary M. Kritz, Douglas T. Gurak, Joel E. Cohen, Stewart Tolnay, and three anonymous reviewers. Previous versions of this article were presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America on April 15, 2010 and the Integrated Modeling of European Migration (IMEM) workshop on May 27, 2011.


  • Harmonization
  • International migration
  • Migration systems


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