Aid, Migration Management, and Authoritarianism: A Research Agenda
Abstract: Since the 2015 European refugee “crisis,” the European Union and its member states have invested billions of euros in migration management programs that purport to build the economies of developing countries to prevent migration. While Europe has been attempting this approach to migration management in countries of migrant origin and transit since the 1990s, it has recently pursued migration agreements that offer development aid in exchange for preventing migration with increased vigor. This article asks: Does migration management aid strengthen or undermine authoritarianism? Similarly, does migration management aid strengthen or undermine democracy? This article sets out an emerging research agenda on the impact of migration management funding on authoritarianism and democracy. Specifically, this article lays out a theoretical framework for analyzing different country cases and the causal pathways by which migration management aid might push a state to be more democratic or more authoritarian. Second, the article presents four policy areas – state capacity, economic development, civil society, and a state’s diaspora – that are impacted by the migration management funding. This research agenda draws on data collected from archival work, secondary literature, as well as an analysis of policy and government documents to understand how migration management aid is used to support or undermine authoritarianism in countries of transit and origin. Using this data, we assess the relationship between migration management funding and state security apparatuses that is often used to suppress migration, in addition to repressing civil society actors, activists, and citizens.