The Ties that Bind: The Role of Migrants in the Uneven Geography of International Telephone Traffic
Global Networks, 13 (1), 2013, pp. 79-100
40 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2010 Last revised: 21 Jan 2013
Date Written: March 2, 2010
Recent work has suggested that migrants have been a major driving force in the dramatic growth of international telephony over recent decades, accounting for large rises in telephone calls between countries with strong immigrant/emigrant connections. Yet the existing literature has not done a good job of evaluating the substantive importance of migrants in explaining large disparities in levels of bilateral voice traffic observed between different countries. Nor has it gone very far in examining how the influence of migrant stocks on international calling is moderated (i.e. amplified or attenuated) by domestic and relational factors. Our contribution in the present article addresses these gaps in the literature. For a sample which includes a far larger number of countries than previous studies, we show that, together with shorter-term visitors, bilateral migrant stocks emerge as the relational variable with one of the substantively largest influences over cross-national patterns of telephone calls. We also find that the effect of bilateral migrant stocks on inter-country telephone traffic is greater where the country pairs are richer and more spatially distant from one another.
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