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Definition and profiles

The definition of the returnee was the following:

Any person returning to his/her country of origin, in the course of the last ten years, after having been an international migrant (whether short-term or long-term) in another country, for more than one year. At time of survey, respondents returned to their countries of origin for more than three months. Return may be permanent or temporary.

This definition partially draws on the one recommended by the United Nations. It refers specifically to migrants who returned to their country of origin in the course of the last ten years, for this time limit allows the impact of the experience of migration on the interviewee’s pattern of reintegration to be assessed. It also allows the respondents to recount their migratory experiences more precisely.

Interviewees belonged to various occupational categories, namely, employees, entrepreneurs/employers, job-seekers and unemployed, students, retired people and housewives.

Various profiles were identified. They differed from one another in terms of patterns of reintegration, return motivations, human and financial capital and patterns of resource mobilization,return context, experience of migration, aspirations and projects.

Sampling method
The information to be collected was identified following a thorough inventory of the existing statistical and documentary data related to return migration in Algeria, Armenia, Mali, Morocco and Tunisia. The statistical and documentary inventory allowed the sample and the sex distribution as well as the geographical stratification to be carried out in each country of return.

The questionnaire results from a collective compromise between all the partners of the project as well as from the desire to optimize its management on the field. The last version of the questionnaire comprises close-ended questions. However, open-ended questions have been included in the questionnaire, particularly regarding the degrees and occupations of the interviewees. The modality “Other” has been inserted in the questionnaire to gather further information if necessary.

Multiple-choice entries have been included in various questions. Often, their structure is dichotomous (Yes/No answers). This configuration was chosen in order to facilitate the ensuing processing of the data collected. Also, it allowed the complexity of certain issues, such as the family composition, the occupational status and sectors and the types of investments to be properly reported. On various occasions the interviewees were asked to prioritize their replies, particularly regarding their return motivations.

Filter questions were necessarily used in the questionnaire to highlight the variety of the migratory experiences and the manifold patterns of reintegration.

A three-stage questionnaire
The questionnaire used during the fieldwork was structured in three distinct migratory stages:

Stage 1:
Before leaving
Stage 2:
Whilst abroad
Stage 3:
Return – Post-return conditions
- Demographic and social characteristics;
- Reasons for leaving the country of origin;
- Social and financial conditions before leaving the country of origin;
- Composition of the household before leaving (if any);
- Education and skills before leaving;
- Professional situation.
- Experience of migration;
- Reasons for having lived in the country(ies) of immigration;
- Duration of the experience lived abroad;
- Social and financial conditions in the immigration country(ies);
- Composition of the household (if any);
- Education and skills acquired abroad;
- Professional and financial situation;
- Relationships with the local institutions abroad and the receiving society;
- Links/contacts with the origin country.
- Return journey;
- Reasons and factors motivating return;
- Expected duration of the return;
- Social and financial conditions after return;
- Composition of the household after return;
- Education and skills acquired after return;
- Professional and financial status after return;
- Relationships with the local institutions and the society in the country of origin after return;
- Links with the former immigration country(ies);
- Post-return projects.

These three stages allow the factors inherent in the returnees’ migratory experience, as well as those that are external to it to be identified, while viewing return as a changing process, whether it is permanent or temporary. In other words, thanks to this approach, it was possible:

  • To understand the extent to which the experience of migration, as well as the social and institutional context at home, impacted on patterns of reintegration;
  • To analyze why and how the human social and financial capital of the interviewee changed over time;
  • To compare diachronically the various factors having motivated and shaped the migratory stages.

Preparation of the survey
Once the variables were identified, a pilot survey was organized and carried out in each country. The questionnaire was administered directly with the respondents.

The pilot survey was a prerequisite to optimizing the administration of the questionnaire and to maximizing the response rate. Around ten pilot interviews were made in each country. Then, the tested field data were processed on a common template which was prepared using the SPSS software. The pilot survey was critical in enhancing the efficacy of the questionnaire and in correcting its shortcomings.

In each return country, local partner institutions were involved. Each of them had a good knowledge of the field and several contacts with migrant-aid associations and networks. This was essential to meeting respondents. Interviews were carried out in public and private places, sometimes at home.

Each partner institution was in charge of recruiting interviewers in the selected regions of inquiry. Training sessions addressed to interviewers were organized in each country with a view to ensuring that:

  • The objectives of the survey were clearly understood and that the interviewers would administer the questionnaire properly without influencing the respondent;
  • The rules of confidentiality and anonymity were respected;
  • The duration of each interview did not exceed 45 minutes, as far as this was possible;
  • The administration of the filter questions was optimal;
  • The regional distribution of the teams of interviewers was properly done;
  • The procedures for collecting the field data were respected and controlled, if need be, by the partner in charge of controlling the implementation of the survey operations.

Data processing
From the preparation of the survey, all the partners agreed to use a common template which necessarily drew on the structure of the questionnaire. Moreover, new variables were included in order to foster the exploitation of the processed data as well as their analysis.

In order to avoid any delay, the processing of the field data started as these were collected, validated and checked. The simultaneous collection and processing of the data allowed the geographical stratification and sex distribution of the sample to be controlled constantly.

Moreover, each partner forwarded the processed data to the coordinating unit in order to ensure the harmonized codification and treatment of the field data.

Data analysis
A common set of cross-tabulations was used with a view to exploiting the field data while referring to a number of dependent and independent variables. Among many others, these cross-tabulations allowed the following topics to be analyzed comparatively:

  • Reasons and factors motivating or determining the departure for abroad, and the post-return conditions;
  • The type and length of the experience of migration;
  • The impact of the experience of migration on the patterns of professional reintegration of the returnees in their country of origin and on the welfare of their households;
  • The returnees’ projects before and after return;
  • The skills acquired abroad and in the country of origin;
  • The financial resources of the returnees and their patterns of reintegration at home;
  • The returnees’ links with their former country(ies) of immigration;
  • The facilitation from which the interviewees may have benefited when returning to their country of origin;
  • The types of investments made by the interviewees in their former country(ies) of immigration and their country of origin;
  • The returnees’ perception of their institutional environment.

The DReM allowed us to adopt various analytical approaches. These were:

  1. Descriptive. Analyses were based on a series of cross-tabulations highlighting the evolution of some variables compared with others, while referring to the above-mentioned three-stage structure of the questionnaire. Various profiles of returnees were identified differing from one another in terms of patterns of reintegration;
  2. Exploratory, by using factor analyses in order to explain the variability of observed and unobserved variables (simple correspondence analyses, multiple correspondence analyses) thanks to a software allowing various socio-demographic and economic variables to be crossed;
  3. Interpretative. Regression models allowed the functional dependence of some elements to be analyzed with reference to a series of explanatory variables or predictors. Various models were tested with a view to leading to a model highlighting the most significant independent variables.