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Modeling American Migration Aspirations: How Capital, Race, and National Identity Shape Americans’ Ideas about Living Abroad

Marrow, Helen B., Klekowski von Koppenfels, Amanda (2020) Modeling American Migration Aspirations: How Capital, Race, and National Identity Shape Americans’ Ideas about Living Abroad. International Migration Review, 54 (1). pp. 83-119. ISSN 0197-9183. (doi:10.1177/0197918318806852) (KAR id:69217)


Recent scholarship proposes a “two-step” approach for better understanding mechanisms underlying the migration process, suggesting we study migration aspirations separately from migration behavior and that the one does not always translate directly into the other. Research on aspirations, however, concentrates on the Global South, despite growing migration flows originating in the Global North. Here, we fill this gap, drawing on a nationally representative online survey we commissioned in 2014 in the United States. Bivariate analysis shows that fully one third of Americans surveyed reveal some aspiration to live abroad, a plurality of those primarily for the purpose of exploration. Multivariate analysis suggests that certain elements of cultural and social capital, including the networks Americans have with prior and current U.S. citizen migrants, structure these aspirations, in tandem with strength of national attachment. Further, both cultural and economic aspects of class, alongside race and national attachment, shape where American aspirants envision going and why. While existing literature addresses the motivations and profile of American migrants already living abroad, ours is the first study to examine Americans’ aspirations prospectively from the point of origin, thereby connecting the literature on Global North migration flows to that on migration aspirations.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0197918318806852
Uncontrolled keywords: migration aspiration, overseas Americans, Global North
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2018 12:54 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Klekowski von Koppenfels, Amanda.

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