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12 June 2017

What Drives Migration from the Middle East? Why People Want to Leave Arab States

Arab Transformations Project Policy Brief on the characteristics of migration and their policy implications

Data from the Arab Transformations public opinion survey provides strong indications about the nature of population movements from the Middle East, making them crucial in designing responsive, evidence-based policy. Our data shows most likely migrants to be young, male, and with higher levels of education. In all countries surveyed, young people are more likely to have considered migrating; in nearly all countries the economy is the main driver of migration; and although a substantial portion of those considering migration think of a permanent move, large proportions are considering only temporary migration. This underscores the importance of economic policies which actually deliver inclusive growth and social cohesion. Two major conclusions can be drawn from this data: first, that the economic causes and strong temporary dimension of migration provide EU Member states with opportunities to reap the benefits of migration, both to the economy as a whole and to welfare systems in particular; second, that MENA countries of origin present significant internal differentiation suggesting policy should reflect specific national circumstances.


Most migrants towards Europe from the Middle East are young, male, educated, and many are motivated to stay temporarily in order to work. To avoid social and political conflict in both countries of origin and arrival, European policy must not fall victim to short-term electoral calculus: it must recognise the long-term benefits sensibly managed migration to both host countries and countries of origin." Andrea Teti

Find the full report here:

Abbott, Pamela and Teti, Andrea (2017) 'What Drives Migration from the Middle East? Why People Want to Leave Arab States,' Arab Trans Policy Brief, n. 8

Author: ArabTrans Project

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