Migration, Political Institutions, and Social Networks

Cátia Batista

Nova School of Business and Economics, CReAM, IZA and NOVAFRICA

Julia Seither

Nova School of Business and Economics, and NOVAFRICA

Pedro Vicente

Nova School of Business and Economics, BREAD, and NOVAFRICA

ISSN 2183-0843
Working Paper No 1701
March 2017
Revised August 2018


What is the role of international migrants and, more specifically, of migrant networks in shaping the quality of political institutions in migrant sending countries? Our theory proposes that migration might change individual social identities and in this way intrinsic motivation for political participation, while it may also improve knowledge about better quality political institutions. Hence, international migration might increase political awareness and participation both by migrants and by other individuals in their networks. To test this hypothesis, this paper uses several survey and behavioral measures related to political participation and electoral knowledge. These data were purposely collected around the time of the 2009 elections in Mozambique. The empirical results show that the number of migrants an individual is in close contact through regular chatting within a village significantly increase political participation of residents in that village – more so than family links to migrants. Our findings are consistent with both improved knowledge about political processes, and increased intrinsic motivation for political participation being transmitted through migrant networks.

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A revised version of this working paper has been published in World Development, May 2019, 117: 328-343.