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Path Dependency and Adaptation: The Effects of Policy on Migration Systems

Simon, Miranda (2019) 'Path Dependency and Adaptation: The Effects of Policy on Migration Systems.' Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 22 (2). ISSN 1460-7425

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Social network theory (SNT) holds that, once a critical number of migrants have settled in a destination, migration adopts a self-perpetuating character whereby movement tends to follow the `beaten track.' At this point, the migratory flow between two countries will no longer be strongly correlated to macro-level variables such as immigration policy. This implies that migrants from a given origin will continue to concentrate in the same destination even if other destinations offer easier possibilities for entry. The concentration of immigrants from one origin, predicted by SNT, is widely documented. However, we also see evidence of migrant flows reorienting away from locations where co-ethnics have historically settled. I develop an abstract, theory-driven agent-based model to help reconcile the existence of two apparently mutually exclusive outcomes under the framework of SNT. This model, which considers network-driven labor migration from Mexico to the USA from 1990 to 2013, demonstrates that network theory can explain the emergence of both path dependent migration systems as well as systems that shift in reaction to immigration policy, when return migration is taken into account. Return, a severely understudied aspect of migration, can help migration flows adapt to changes in immigration policy and follow the path of least resistance towards a new destination.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2019 11:54
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2019 12:15

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