Choice or Mimetism in the Decision to Migrate? A European Illustration

29 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2009

See all articles by Thierry Warin

Thierry Warin

HEC Montreal; CIRANO

Andrew Blakely

Middlebury College

Date Written: August 1, 2009


This paper examines the role of herd behavior (mimetism) and network effects as determinants of bilateral migration flows to thirteen of the EU-15 countries. Using an adapted gravity model controlling for economic activity, welfare progressivity, geospatial, and historic relationships, the results force us to question the ways in which we explain migration flows. Herd behavior influences positively the flows of migrants to Europe, whereas the existence of network complementarities in the receiving country does not consistently predict and may in some cases reduce the likelihood of immigrant inflows. Moreover, economic activity and particularly labor market conditions play a lesser role in migrants’ choice of location than was previously thought. The introduction of herd behavior as a determinant of European Migration in our empirical analysis changes the paradigm for understanding migration and suggests that prior definitions of social perceptions are inadequate.

Keywords: migration, herd behavior, network effects

JEL Classification: J6, O15, Z13

Suggested Citation

Warin, Thierry and Blakely, Andrew, Choice or Mimetism in the Decision to Migrate? A European Illustration (August 1, 2009). CIRANO - Scientific Publications 2009s-38. Available at SSRN: or

Thierry Warin (Contact Author)

HEC Montreal ( email )

3000, Chemin de la CĂ´te-Sainte-Catherine
Montreal, Quebec H2X 2L3

CIRANO ( email )

2020 rue University, 25th floor
Montreal H3C 3J7, Quebec


Andrew Blakely

Middlebury College ( email )

Middlebury, VT 05753
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics