Information Gaps and Irregular Migration to Europe

Project Info

Principal Investigators

Tijan L Bah (U Navarra and U Gambia)
Cátia Batista (Nova SBE)
Flore Gubert (IRD Paris)
David McKenzie (World Bank)


Funded by the European Union

Institutional support

Ministry of Youth and Sports – The Gambia

About this Project

Irregular migration to Europe through the sea, though risky, remains one of the most popular migration options for many Sub-Saharan Africans. Policymakers have scaled up their efforts to deter potential migrants from embarking on this dangerous route. But the impact of these efforts has mostly not been rigorously evaluated. These efforts must address the relevant factors in the decision-making process of the potential migrants. Do the latter actually know how risky their intended voyage is? Do they have realistic expectations regarding their chances of being granted asylum after their arrival? If not, are their migration intentions and decisions affected by more accurate information? What other policies can be put in place to save lives in this process? Our project conducts a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of different policies to reduce irregular migration to Europe. For this purpose, we worked with 4000 potential migrants from rural areas in the Gambia, the country in West Africa with the highest incidence of irregular migration to Europe.

Read here the NOVAFRICA Working Paper “Can Information and Alternatives to Irregular Migration Reduce “Backway” Migration from The Gambia?” to learn about the results of this project.  And also the World Bank Blog  for a shorter policy summary.
The registered report for this randomized impact evaluation has been accepted for publication at the Journal of Development Economics.

Read here the NOVAFRICA Working PaperHow has COVID-19 affected the intention to migrate via the backway to Europe and to a neighboring African country? Survey evidence and a salience experiment in The Gambia“. And also the blog post describing these results published by GlobalDev.
This Working Paper is forthcoming in the Journal of African Economies.

Find the Policy Report summarizing the results of this project here.

See here information about the local validation workshop held on July 7th, 2021. See media coverage of the project here.


Photo by UNHCR / Massimo Sestini (UNHCR / Massimo Sestini).

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