Migration 101

Is migration as big a deal as we make it out to be?

In this course, we take apart some of the most commonly held preconceptions about migration with Hein de Haas, one of the field’s leading scholars. After watching his videos, you’ll have a fundamental understanding of the realities surrounding today’s debate on migrants and the refugee crisis.

We recommend Migration 101 as a primer for other Migration Matters courses.

All episodes are linked below. Each consists of:

  • 1 bite-sized video
  • A smidge of introductory text
  • Resources for further thought and exploration.

Are we living in a time of unprecedented migration?

More people than ever before are on the move, right? Not exactly. More people may be moving, but there are also more people in the world.

In this episode of Migration 101, a course on the drivers and impacts of migration with Professor of Sociology Hein de Haas, one of the world’s leading migration researchers, we take a closer look at the history of migration and what this means for the future.



How Has Migration to Europe Changed Over Time?

Since the summer of 2015, the world has gotten to know a new Europe – one shaken by a perceived crisis of migrants and refugees. Human beings in distress are images now irrevocably tied to the shores of Italy or Greece.

But is this the reality? Are migrants, indeed, overrunning Europe? This is the question we’ve asked Hein de Haas, Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam.


How Much Does Global Inequality Drive Migration?

We often think that poverty is the main driver of migration, that most of the world’s poor would leave their homes for a life elsewhere. But it’s not that simple, says Hein de Haas, one of the world’s leading scholars on migration and Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam.

In this episode, Hein explains the connection between the demand for migrant labour in developed countries and migration to those countries. He also challenges the common assumption that welfare benefits in wealthier states drive immigration.


Will Climate Change Lead to More Migration?

Many fear that climate change will bring much of the world’s poor to the shores of Europe. As seas rise and resources become scarce, the wealthier and better-prepared states will be overrun, according to this narrative. But is this based in evidence? Not exactly, says Hein de Haas, renowned migration expert and Professor of Sociology.

In this episode, Hein criticises the frequently made connection between climate change and increased levels of migration to developed countries.



How Much Does Migration Change Receiving Societies?

You may have heard that immigrants alter the fabric of receiving societies. It’s true that migration contributes to the make-up of a culture in more ways than one. But this does not translate into fundamental changes to the structure of society, says Hein de Haas, migration expert and Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam.

In this episode, Hein offers examples of how immigrants adapt to the norms of their new environment and how political frameworks are not so easily swayed by the mere arrival of newcomers.


Can We "Fix" Poorer Countries to Keep People From Emigrating?

Foreign aid programs can improve the quality of life for millions around the world, and we may assume that a higher quality of life at home would prevent a potential migrant from going abroad.

But this is often not the case, explains Hein de Haas, renowned migration researcher and Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam.



Who Are We Allowing in? Who Are We Trying to Keep out?

Given the public debate on migration today, one might assume that countries around the world have become or are becoming more restrictive on migration. Yet, these policies are not actually more restrictive; rather they reflect a global class system, says Professor of Sociology Hein de Haas.

In this episode, Hein investigates how and to what effect destination countries decide on which migrants to accept, as well as which migrants they work actively to keep out.



How Effective Are Borders in Keeping People out?

2015 was the year we saw borders return to the European Union. Not just physical borders: Britain’s decision to leave the EU was partly driven by the desire to reduce migration and will likely result in imposed restrictions on mobility.

However, borders and visas do not always have their intended effect, argues Hein de Haas, renowned migration researcher and Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam.

In this episode, Hein provides some interesting case studies that complicate the predominant perception of how borders stop movement.


Want More or Less Migration? Here's What to Think About.

It’s no secret that receiving countries tend to favour (and actively recruit) high-skilled over low-skilled migrants in their immigration policies. Yet, these same countries often have industries that depend on or even prefer low-skilled migrants. Can you really have both? asks University of Amsterdam’s Hein de Haas.

In this episode, Hein gets real about what we must consider before supporting further restrictions on our borders, providing examples of what could be at stake.


Is Migration Good, Bad, or Normal?

In this final episode of Migration 101, Hein inspires us to move away from the polarised conversation around migration and to acknowledge that migration is a fundamental feature of human development.

Meet the Expert

Hein de Haas

Dr. Hein de Haas is Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. He was a founding member and director of the International Migration Institute at the University of Oxford. He is a co-author of The Age of Migration, a leading textbook in the field of migration, as well as How Migration Really Works. You can find more information and free downloads of his publications on his website. He also maintains a blog – we recommend this entry titled “Human migration: myths, hysteria and facts” and this one on migration and climate change.