Selection of migrants and realization of migration intentions: lessons from a panel study
Keywords:international migration, migration intention, migration-related attitudes, subjective norms, panel survey, selection of migrants
We examined the selection of emigrants and the relationship between migration intention and actual migration, using the two-wave panel survey Turning Points of Life Course – Transylvania, which was carried out in 2006 and 2009 among the Hungarian-speaking population of Transylvania aged 20–45. This type of follow-up survey, dealing with migration intentions and subsequent behavior, is rare in the field of migration research. On the basis of prior intentions and actual migration, four groups could be discerned: stayers, who had no migration plans and did not move; expected migrants, who previously reported their intention of moving and who carried it out; dreamers, who planned migration but did not realize it; and unexpected migrants, who initially had no migration plans, but nevertheless moved. Our results indicate a negative selection of migrants in the dimensions related to living conditions and work, and a positive selection regarding subjective state of health and anomie. Those who expressed an intention to migrate during the first wave were almost three and a half times more likely to move than were those who had no such plans. Using Ajzen’s theory of planned behavior, migration-related expectations were measured by the assessment of advantages and disadvantages associated with migration, while subjective norms were gauged by the perceived pressure from significant others (friends, parents, relatives) to migrate. Our findings confirm that migration-related attitudes and subjective norms influence migration behavior only indirectly, via migration intention.