Deciding Where to Go: Policies, People and Perceptions Shaping Destination Preferences

Heaven Crawley, Jessica Hagen-Zanker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


There is considerable interest among European politicians and policymakers in the factors influencing the destination preferences of refugees and other migrants. Drawing on in‐depth qualitative interviews with more than 250 Syrians, Eritreans and Nigerians, this article examines the destination preferences of those crossing the Mediterranean in 2015 and the extent to which they were aware of, and/or influenced by, policies intended to control and manage their arrival. Our findings question the extent to which deterrence policies have their intended or assumed effects. Preferred destinations are rarely identified solely, or even primarily, on the basis of migration policies devised by different governments with the explicit aim of reducing the number of arrivals. Rather they reflect the “coming together” of a wide range of factors, including access to protection and family reunification, the availability/accuracy of information, the overall economic environment and social networks. Moreover perceptions of migration policies may be more significant than their content as the implications are often not known or misunderstood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-35
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Migration
Issue number1
Early online date10 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Crawley, H & HagenZanker, J 2019, 'Deciding Where to Go: Policies, People and Perceptions Shaping Destination Preferences' International Migration, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 20-35, which has been published in final form at This
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Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.




  • Migration
  • Migrants
  • Refugees
  • Decision making
  • Journeys
  • Europe
  • Mediterranean
  • Policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography

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