Modeling migration dynamics in Albania

Carlo Azzarri, World Bank Group
Calogero Carletto, World Bank Group

Since 1990, international migration flows from Albania have been massive, with substantial fluctuations overtime. The resulting trends have been the result of changing push and pull factors which in the short span of a little over a decade have dramatically altered the demographic profile of the country. This work aims at modeling the decision to migrate, and eventually return, using conditional hazard function models, in which the decision to leave the country (or to return) at time t is conditional on past occurrences and affected by changing conditions overtime. Taking advantage of unusually rich data from the 2005 Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) survey, reconstructing full histories of migration and of other major life events since 1990, we assess the importance of time-dependent factors such as household demographics, shocks, migration networks and changes in migration policies in the main host countries on the probability to migrate, and to return, overtime. In many respects, the Albania experience and the available data are unique as they enable us to explore these dynamics since the onset of the migration phenomenon. Results highlight that, with the build-up of migrant networks abroad, households tend to specialize in terms of both destination and type of migration. Exogenous shocks also act as incentives for potential migrants; for instance, the saving scheme collapse of 1996 created a strong push for older and less educated individuals to migrate. However, these less qualified migrants are also increasingly more likely to return after a relatively short spell abroad, raising concerns about the negative selectivity of returnees and their true potential for future development in Albania. Changes in migration policies in the main destination countries are also found to affect the probability to migrate and to return. Finally, the demographic composition and life-cycle position of the household at the time of each migration episode matters, supporting the idea that migration is a household-level decision.

Presented in Poster Session 2