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16 Sep 2020

Migration in West and North Africa and across the Mediterranean - Migration and Risks Introduction

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Risk-taking is inherent to migration. Leaving one’s home has inevitably something of venturing into unknown territory. The home one leaves can be inhospitable, yet it is a familiar place. A host country can seem a heaven from afar, yet a newcomer with no full citizenship rights may find it a hard place. Economic theories place risktaking at the centre of the decision to migrate. Whether they expect to earn a higher income on the condition that they find employment at destination or their household follows a strategy of diversifying sources of income to reduce the probability of not earning a sufficient livelihood, migrants – whether consciously or not – incorporate a risk calculation into their decisions to move. While in the first instance migrants seeking international protection obey a non-economic rationality, they also follow a risk-reduction strategy: as difficult as it might be, forced migration takes place once staying at home has become the worst choice.