Thu Hien Dao - On the Fundamental Drivers of International Migration

ESPO Louvain-La-Neuve, Mons

04 juillet 2018




Le Recteur de l'Université catholique de Louvain fait savoir que

Mme Thu Hien DAO

soutiendra publiquement sa dissertation pour l'obtention du titre de Docteur en Sciences Economiques et de Gestion

 « On the Fundamental Drivers of International Migration »


This thesis examines the drivers of past and future trends of international migration. The first chapter sheds light on the global migration patterns of the past 40 years (1960-2000), and produces migration projections for the 21st century (2020-2100). It demonstrates that both historical and future migration trends are mainly governed by socio-demographic changes in developing countries. The second chapter studies the drivers behind the inverted U-shaped relationship between migration and development, i.e. emigration first increases and then decreases as a country experiences economic development. Two decomposition levels are proposed to dissect this pattern: microeconomic and macroeconomic drivers, and migration aspirations and realization by education level. The chapter provides consistent evidence that the role of financial constraints, while relevant for the poorest countries, is limited. Rather, a large fraction of the increasing segment of the inverted U is explained by the skill composition and by macroeconomic drivers (i.e., by factors that cannot be changed in the short run). The last chapter develops a micro-founded model to predict the effects of development on migration based on the findings from the second chapter. In addition, simulations are performed to assess the potential outcomes of policies intending to govern migration, i.e. border restriction policies and development measures aiming at reducing migration pressures from low- to high-income countries. Overall, the thesis provides consistent results that migration from sub-Saharan Africa to OECD countries and to Europe in particular will increase. Curbing downward these migration pressures requires triggering unprecedented economic take-offs in migrants’ origin countries. Therefore increasing migration is a likely phenomenon of the 21st century.

Membres du jury :

Professeur Christiane Clemens (Universität Bielefeld), promotrice
Professeur Frédéric Docquier (UCLouvain), promoteur
Professeur Mathilde Maurel (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Professeur Timothy Hatton (University of Essex)
Professeur Vincent Vandenberghe (UCLouvain)
Professeur Gerald Willmann (Universität Bielefeld), président du jury