Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tell me, my migrant friends!

Tell me, my migrant friends, what did you expect from migration to the more developed countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, and Italy? Why did you not just stay in Indonesia? Before you moved, what did you desire? What motivated you to come here? And when you are now living in these countries, is your expectation met already?

Those questions of mine were triggered by my actual experience as a mover. And I was not the first one who actually asked those questions. There are many studies focusing on migration decision process (motivations, expectations) and on migration consequences (rate of return to migration).

Migration decision is considered as an important decision, i.e. it has profound consequences on our lives, and usually driven by certain motivations. Our motivations were shaped by internal factors within individuals (characters, preferences), and external factors outside the individuals (the opinion of important others, our families, our budget, etc). In this writing, I am trying to identify the process of our migration, based on what I have learned (and please correct me if there are any improper lines or incorrect concept!).

1. Free decision
I think it is safe to assume that our decision to migrate abroad for studying is a 'free' decision (not forced). So, our migrations are not forced migration such as caused by natural disasters or war. (For basic concepts on forced migration, see Boyle et al 1998).

2. Bounded rational
Usually, when we studied in economics, we assume the decision-maker as a rational being. Now, let me introduce you to a concept called 'bounded rational'. Rationality in economic theory assumes full information. Bounded rational is a concept that defines rationality as bounded by limited information and how an individual perceive that information. The information is contextual, which is gathered from one's immediate environment (for further reference, see De Bruijn 1999).

Therefore, we do not assume 'unlimited' and homogeneity of choices. As an example, a person who lives in Madura might consider (bounded by one's contextual information) to move to Surabaya or to Banjarmasin. But he/she might never think to move to Biak at all! In microeconomic theory, we will approach the choice to move for this particular person either to Banjarmasin and Biak as homogen.

(Berly was informed about STUNED scholarship and thus created contextual information for him different from those who never heard such a scholarship).

3. International migration
Our migration is an 'international migration' because of its temporal and spatial dimensions. It is across the boundary of a country (from Indonesia to Italy or Norway), and for relatively permanent period of time. More than 6 months is usually the common period for a movement to be considered migration (see, for instance, the definition of migration from Indonesia CBS) instead of circulation or commuting.

4. Our motives!
What were our motives to migrate? De Jong and Fawcett (1982) identify the motives for migration as follows: wealth, status, comfort, stimulation, autonomy, affiliation, and morality in their Value-Expectancy model. A person weighs these motives to migrate with one's expectation of the outcome. For instance, a male farmer in Banten might has a motive for better wealth by moving to Jakarta, but if he thinks the chance to get better wealth is not high, he might decide not to move at all. A female worker might think that being close to her husband (affiliation) is more important than her income (wealth) that she considers to move with her husband and thus loosing her job.

Based on value-expectancy model, our stronger motives might be wealth and status. We want to get higher degree and usually we expect better income later on. For me, I also consider stimulation, i.e. having pleasurable activities as one of my motives. I like to travel, and I want to see big cities in Europe!

5. Our dreams come true?
This is something that is very interesting for me. Usually, we have certain expectations prior to the move. Now we already moved. Do we meet our expectations? How is our post migration situation? Probably, some of us get more respect when we had vacation in Indonesia (better status) because we are pursuing higher degree. We probably miss home a lot ('hunger' of affiliation).

Through time, our motivations might evolve, and we see things differently. We expected certain things, get some things, and loose some things. That is what happened to me. I expected what a person who pursued a higher degree expected: better status, better wealth, stimulation, among others. But I evolved to see things differently. My biggest gain from my migration is not what I ever expected before coming here to Groningen: I found the meaning of my life....and I think there is no theory on this motive of migration yet! And in this sense, I think I can say that my dreams have come true! How about you?


  • Boyle, P., K. Halfacree and V. Robinson (1998), Exploring contemporary migration, New York:
    Addison Wesley Longman Ltd.
  • De Bruijn, Bart (1999), Foundations of demographic theory: Choice, process, context, Amsterdam: Thela Thesis Publishers.
  • De Jong, Gordon F. and James T. Fawcett (1981), “Motivations for migration: An assessments and a Value-Expectancy research model, in Gordon F. De Jong and Robert W. Gardner, eds., Migration decision making: Multidisciplinary approaches to microlevel studies in developed and developing countries. New York: Pergamon press.

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