MIGNEX Background Paper

Tackling the root causes of migration


We examine the options that policymakers have for tackling the root causes of migration, defined as improving the economic, social and political conditions in places of origin with the aim of reducing aspirations to migrate internationally by making it more feasible and desirable to stay. We discuss root causes on the concept’s own terms, with the aim to make policy options clear, not to endorse it.

Key takeaways
Limited livelihood opportunities, poor governance, and high levels of corruption are three key root causes that affect international migration aspirations.
Policies tackling the root causes of migration could expand people’s choices in origin areas, which is better aligned with development ambitions, and is more ethical.
Yet, in practice, there is a scarcity of policy tools proven to deliver the kind of transformation necessary to reshape migration aspirations.