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The Internetization of International Migration

Luca Maria Pesando, Valentina Rotondi, Manuela Stranges, Ridhi Kashyap and Francesco C. Billari

Population and Development Review, 2021, vol. 47, issue 1, 79-111

Abstract: The Internet has revolutionized our economies, societies, and everyday lives. Many social phenomena are no longer the same as they were in the pre‐Internet era: they have been “Internetized.” We define the Internetization of international migration, and we investigate it by exploring the links between the Internet and migration outcomes all along the migration path, from migration intentions to actual migration. Our analyses leverage a number of sources, both at the micro‐ and the macro‐level, including the Gallup World Poll, the Arab Barometer, data from the International Telecommunication Union, the Italian population register, and unique register data from a migrant reception center in Southern Italy. We also distinguish between economic migrants—those who leave their country of origin with the aim of seeking better economic opportunities elsewhere—and political migrants—those who are forced to leave their countries of origin for political or conflict‐related reasons. Our findings point to a consistently positive relationship between the diffusion of the Internet, migration intentions, and migration behaviors, supporting the idea that the Internet is not necessarily a driving force of migration per se, but rather an enabling “supportive agent.” These associations are particularly relevant for economic migrants, at least for migration intentions. Further analyses underscore the importance of the Internet in providing a key informational channel which helps to define clearer migration trajectories.

Date: 2021
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