Return home? Determinants of return migration intention amongst Turkish immigrants in Germany

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What drives Turkish immigrants living in Germany to consider returning to Turkey? This study answers this question by investigating the determinants of return migration intention amongst Turkish immigrants across multiple generations. I use the 2014 wave “Migration Sample (M1)” of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), which surveyed 482 respondents of Turkish descent, to explore the determinants of return migration intention across three domains: (1)  economic  integration, (2) transnational activities, and (3) xenophobia/self-identity. The results indicate that each domain contributes independently to decisions about return migration. First, Turkish immigrants are more likely to harbor return intentions if they face economic difficulties. Second, transnational engagement triggers return considerations. Third, while concerns about xenophobia catalyze return intention, national identities affect return intentions in different ways; identifying as Turkish prompts return intention while identifying as German is associated with a decrease in return intent. I also explore interactions between the three domains, revealing distinctive return intention patterns within each generation. Subsequent generations of immigrants are more likely than the first generation to form return intentions, as economic and social challenges produce a “reactive ethnicity” expressed by increased return intentions.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • International migration
  • Germany
  • Return migration
  • Return intentions
  • Turkish immigrants


  • Economics
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

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