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Blueprinting Migration Analysis: Why Theoretical Applications of Migration Analysis are Not One-Size-Fits-All Open Access

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Researchers typically conceive international migration to be from a developing country to a developed country, which is often coined South-North migration. International migration is not confined, however, to migration from developing countries to developed countries. Rather, international migration also includes robust migration flows from developing countries to other developing countries, or South-South migration. South-South migration has occurred along with South-North migration over the last century, but until recently has been largely overlooked by Northern researchers. Armed with a set of theories and tools to understand South-North migration, researchers and policy makers have approached South-South migration with an unaltered tool belt during the past decade. This dissertation examines how a migration analysis blueprint came to be and why it fails to hold in diverse environments. I demonstrate how and why policy makers rely on economic theories to understand migration processes. I then illustrate how the assumptions underlying migrant behavior in economic theory lead to analysis that does not capture the migration process across developing countries. I further argue that assumptions concerning the role of the state cause researchers to overlook the multi-dimensional nature of the migration process and the ability of developing countries to affect migration processes, which ultimately affects policy prescription. I conclude with a discussion of the implications for research and policy, and propose steps for a research and policy agenda that more accurately reflects migration practices.

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