Selection of migrants and realization of migration intentions – lessons from a panel study


  • Irén Gödri
  • Gábor Attila Feleky



international migration, migration behaviour, migration intention, migration plans, migration-related attitudes, subjective norms, panel survey, selection of migrants


We examined the selection of emigrants and the relationship between migration intention and actual migration based on the two-wave panel survey Turning Points of Life Course – Transylvania conducted in 2006 and 2009 among the Hungarian-speaking population of Transylvania aged 20–45. This type of follow-up surveys, which confront migration intentions and subsequent behaviour are scarce in the field of migration research. Based on the previous intentions and actual migration, four groups could be separated: stayers, who did not have migration plans and did not move; expected migrants, who previously reported intention to move and realized it; dreamers, who planned migration but did not realize it; and unexpected migrants, who initially had no migration plans but moved nevertheless. Our results indicate negative selection of migrants in the dimensions related to living conditions and work, and positive selection regarding subjective state of health and anomie. Although only 17% of the migration plans were followed by actual migration in the 3-year follow-up period, migration intention proved to be a statistically significant predictor of migration. Those who had a migration plan of any kind during the first wave were almost three and a half times more likely to move than non-planners. Based on Ajzen’s theory of planned behaviour we have also analysed the role of migrationrelated expectations and subjective norms in migration behaviour. Migration-related expectations were measured by the assessment of advantages and disadvantages associated with migration, while subjective norms by the perceived pressure from significant others (friends, parents, relatives) towards migration. Our findings confirm that migration-related attitudes and subjective norms, in accordance with Ajzen’s theory, influence migration behaviour only indirectly via migration intention.