What does global migration network say about recent changes in the world-system structure?
Purpose – The current paper aims to investigate whether the structure of international migration system and its country-to-country distribution have remained stable through the recent turbulent changes in the World System, or experienced any visible alteration. We also seek to outline some of the main factors which likely exerted the most influence upon any recent changes in the structure of international migration network.
Design/methodology/approach – The methodology we use largely belongs to the social network analysis framework – but with some noteworthy limitations stipulated by the specifics of our data.
Findings – Centrality analysis sheds light on some key features of the international migration network. First, the list of the most central nodes demonstrates remarkable stability over time, with the United States consistently occupying the first place, and Russia and Germany stably entering the top-5 (or even top-3 ever since 1990). A number of EU countries and Australia are also set in their positions of highly central nodes. Centrality analysis also clearly demonstrates the emergence (in the 1970s) and development of the Gulf countries (particularly Saudi Arabia and UAE) as major migration destinations.
Research limitations/implications – The results of our analysis present a mixture of evidence to support both the principles of neoclassical migration theory developed in two seminal papers by Todaro (1969) and Harris and Todaro (1970), and some of its critiques, as the migration patterns are strongly influenced by historical links (such as colonial ties), geographical distance, cultural distance, etc. Defining the scope of influence of each of these factors lies far beyond the scale of this paper. However, further application of social network analysis to studying the global migration network, in our opinion, has quite remarkable potential for contributing to this line of research.
Originality/value – This paper’s originality/value lies in drawing attention to the specific features in the structure of the global migration network and their implications for the World-System studies.