Youth Migration Gains and Losses

A Critical Analysis of Economic Perspectives in the Case of the Raparin Administration in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq




irregular migration, labour migration, unemployment, push and pull factors, Iraq, Kurdistan, Raparin


Migration has long been at the forefront of global political discussion. In the Middle East, where the migration phenomenon is more prominent, younger migrants are driven away by factors such as poor basic services, lower quality of life, and limited job opportunities; at the same time, they are attracted by Europe’s better economic opportunities and quality of life, the possibility of sending remittances to families back home, and being able to build a better future. Although many attempt to migrate legally, this is often impossible and so migrants resort to irregular means. Migration has thus become a serious challenge for many families in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). In light of this issue, the study’s focus was on irregular migration in the Raparin Administration, an independent administration in the KRI. We examined the drivers of irregular youth migration and investigated the push and pull factors underlying the alarming rise in illegal migration through dangerous routes to Europe. The study adopted a mixed-methods approach. In addition to desk research and key informant interviews with families in the Raparin Administration, we conducted surveys in selected districts there, where most families have at least one member who has sought refuge in Europe over the last decade.

The findings show that many from the Raparin Administration migrated for better life opportunities and to secure a more promising future for themselves and their families. Many young university graduates aimed to find good jobs so that they could send remittances to their families in the country of origin, thus substantially improving their families’ circumstances. We also found that, since 2003, economic drivers in Iraq have become more influential compared to other migratory waves. Moreover, while wealthier young persons were more likely to migrate using regular channels, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, as is typical in the Raparin Administration, were more likely to consider irregular and dangerous routes. Financing youth migration was also a core concern for families, who supported both the decision to migrate and its requisite costs.

Author Biographies

Asst. Prof. Dr. Ahmad Paiman, University of Raparin, Ranya, Kurdistan Region- Iraq

Dr. Paiman Ahmad is an assistant professor in the Department of Law, College of Humanity Sciences, at the University of Raparin, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. Corresponding author.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Abdullah Omar Yassen, Department of International Marketing and Languages, Erbil Technical Administrative College, Erbil Polytechnic University, Erbil, Iraq

Dr. Abdullah Omar Yassen is policy and advocacy adviser at the Norwegian Refugee Council, Iraq and professor of International Law at the Erbil Polytechnic University, Iraq.

Dr. Makwan Jamil Mustafa, University of Halabja, Halabja, Kurdistan Region-Iraq

Dr. Makwan Jamil Mustafa is a lecturer in the College of Law and Administration, Department of International Trade, at the University of Halabja, Kurdistan Region of Iraq.


Aker, D. Y., Dalaman, Z. B., Özerim, M. G., Utku, D. E., & Sirkeci, I. (2021). Fundamentals of international migration. Transnational Press.

Askandar, A. (2017). Reasons for migration among youth. Causes and solutions. Kurd IU.

Ahmad, P. (2018). The Middle East refugee crisis. Syria and Iraq case. In E. Balica, & V. Marinescu, (Eds.). Migration and crime. Palgrave Macmillan.

Bade, K. (2003). Migration in European history. Blackwell Publishing.

Clemens, M. A. (2022). Migration on the rise, a paradigm in decline. The last half-century of global mobility. AEA Papers and Proceedings, 112, 257-261.

Collier, P. (2013). Exodus. How migration is changing our world. Oxford University Press.

de Haas, H. G. (2005). Morocco's migration transition. Trends, determinants and future scenarios (Global Migration Perspectives, Issue 28).

Djajić, S. (2014). Asylum seeking and irregular migration. International Review of Law and Economics, 39, 83-95.

Flahaux, M. L., & de Haas, H. (2016). African migration. Trends, patterns, drivers. Comparative Migration Studies, 4(1), 1-25.

Green, M. (2017). How manners, migration, concentration and technology affect our lives. Smashwords.

IOM. (2023, June 10). Key migration terms.

Issac, J. (1947). Economics of migration (1st ed.). Routledge.

Joseph, K. V. (1988). Migration and economic development of Kerala. Mittal Publications.

Kaczorowski, K. (2018). Countering otherings. Social negotiations of identity among new Kurdish migrants in Istanbul. In J. Bocheńska (Ed.), Rediscovering Kurdistan’s cultures and identities. The Call of the Cricket (pp. 151-185). Springer International Publishing.

Khalil, H. M. (2021). Political and economic causes for migration in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Penus.

King, D. E. (2005). Asylum seekers/patron seekers. Interpreting Iraqi Kurdish migration. Human Organization, 64(4), 316–326.

Klöble, K. (2021). A behavioural perspective on the drivers of migration. Studying economic and social preferences using the Gallup World Poll.

Koczan, Z., Peri, G., Pinat, M., & Rozhkov, D. L. (2021). The impact of international migration on inclusive growth. A review. IMF Working Paper.


Lee, E. S. (1966). A theory of migration. Demography, 3(1), 47-57.

Mandal, R. B. (1981). Frontiers in migration analysis. Concept Publishing.

Marr, P. (2018). The modern history of Iraq. Taylor & Francis.

Menmy, D. T. (2021, November 16). ‘There is no life'. Why Iraqi Kurdish migrants are fleeing to Europe. The New Arabia.

North Press Agency. (2023, May 16). Illegal migration to Europe hit record level. EU agency.,number%20recorded%20on%20all%20routes

OECD. (2014). Is migration good for the economy? (Migration policy debates).

OECD. (2017). Creating an enabling environment to enhance the development impact of remittances.

Ozaltin, D., Shakir, F., & Loizides, N. (2020). Why do people flee? Revisiting forced migration in post-Saddam Baghdad. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 21(2), 587-610.

Ozden, C., & Schiff, M. (2007). International migration, economic development & policy.

Portes, J. (2019). The economics of migration. Contexts, 18(2), 12-17.

Ratha, D. (2014, January 13). Collier’s Exodus. Reckless recommendations. World Bank Blogs.

Rees, P., & Lomax, N. (2020). Ravenstein revisited. The analysis of migration, then and now. Comparative Population Studies, 44, 351-412.

Salmi, J., & Salmi, K. (2017, March 24). Is the brain drain always negative? University World News.

Seefar. (2021). To Belarus and beyond — understanding migration plans of Kurdish migrants travelling the Belarus route.

Sirkeci, I. (2005). War in Iraq. Environment of insecurity and international migration. International Migration, 43(4), 197-214.

Statista. (2023). Number of recorded deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea from 2014 to 2022.

Taran, A. P., & Ivakhnyuk, I. (2009). Economic migration, social cohesion, and development. Council of Europe Publishing.

Technical University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt. (n.d.). Safe, orderly and regular migration (SORM) conference. Transnational skill partnerships (68th International Association for the Study of the World Refugee Problem Conference). Retrieved December 14, 2023, from

Troeller, G. UNHCR resettlement. Evolution and future direction. International Journal Refugee Law, 14(1), 85-95.

UNHCR. (1997). Resettlement. An Instrument of Protection and a Durable Solution. International Journal Refugee Law, 9(4), 666-673.

UNHCR. (2015). Global trends. Forced displacement in 2014.


UNHCR. (2023). Global trends. Forced displacement in 2022.

UNHCR Statistical Online Population Database. (2014). Total refugee population by country of asylum, 1960-2012 and total refugee population by origin, 1960-2012. Retrieved 15 October 2015 from

Van Hear, N., Bakewell, O., & Long, K. (2018). Push-pull plus. Reconsidering the drivers of migration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44(6), 927-944.

World Bank. (2015). The Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Assessing the economic and social impact of the Syrian conflict and ISIS. World Bank Group.

World Bank. (2018). Moving for prosperity. Global migration and labor markets. Policy Research Report. W. B. Publications.

Yassen, A. O. (2016). The right of refugees to durable solutions. An examination of the situation of Iraqi Refugees [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. Newcastle University.

Yassen, A. O. (2019). The prospects for durable solutions for Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. A case study of Erbil Governorate camps. Refugee Survey Quarterly, 38, 448-469.

Yassen, A. O. (2023). A new asylum law for the KRI and Iraq. Reality or wishful thinking? International Migration, 61(1), 168-183.




How to Cite

Ahmad, P., Yassen, A. O., & Mustafa , M. J. (2023). Youth Migration Gains and Losses: A Critical Analysis of Economic Perspectives in the Case of the Raparin Administration in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Quarterly on Refugee Problems - AWR Bulletin, 62(4), 415–428.

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.