Spillover effects of stricter immigration policies

Cristina Bratu, Matz Dahlberg*, Mattias Engdahl, Till Nikolka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


We provide evidence for the existence of spillover effects of national immigration policies by estimating the effect of stricter family reunification rules in Denmark on migration behavior. We reach three main conclusions. Using Danish register data, we first show that stricter rules for reunification led to a clear and significant increase in emigration of Danish citizens with immigrant background. Most of the emigrants left Denmark for Sweden, a neighboring country in which reunification was possible. Next, using Swedish register data, we find that affected individuals emigrating to Sweden actually came for family formation purposes. Finally, we demonstrate that not all individuals that came to Sweden to reunite with a partner stayed in the country; of those leaving, return migration to Denmark was most common. Our results indicate that potential spillover effects from national migration policies should be taken into account when forming migration policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104239
Early online date11 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Family reunification
  • International migration
  • Migration policy
  • Spillover effects of public policies

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