Sustainability and Social Justice

Document Type



Research on the impacts of COVID-19 on mobility has focused primarily on the increased health vulnerabilities of involuntary migrant and displaced populations. But virtually all migration flows have been truncated and altered because of reduced economic and mobility opportunities of migrants. Here we use a well-established framework of migration decision-making, whereby individual decisions combine the aspiration and ability to migrate, to explain how public responses to the COVID-19 pandemic alter migration patterns among urban populations across the world. The principal responses to COVID-19 pandemic that affected migration are: 1) through travel restrictions and border closures, 2) by affecting abilities to move through economic and other means, and 3) by affecting aspirations to move. Using in-depth qualitative data collected in six cities in four continents (Accra, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dhaka, Maputo, and Worcester), we explore how populations with diverse levels of education and occupations were affected in their current and future mobility decisions. We use data from interviews with sample of internal and international migrants and non-migrants during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic outbreak to identify the mechanisms through which the pandemic affected their mobility decisions. The results show common processes across the different geographical contexts: individuals perceived increased risks associated with further migration, which affected their migration aspirations, and had reduced abilities to migrate, all of which affected their migration decision-making processes. The results also reveal stark differences in perceived and experienced migration decision-making across precarious migrant groups compared to high-skilled and formally employed international migrants in all settings. This precarity of place is particularly evident in low-income marginalised populations. © 2023, The Author(s).

Publication Title

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications

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COVID-19, migration, mobility, Accra, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dhaka, Maputo, Worcester, Massachusetts



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Sociology Commons



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