EU migrants

June 21, 2018 at 4:11 pm 3 comments

| Gabriel |

Yesterday the Guardian published a list of 34,361 migrants who had died attempting to reach or settle within Europe. (The list is originally from United for Intercultural Action).  The modal cause of death is shipwreck, but the list also includes suicides, homicides, terrestrial accidents, etc. I was curious as to the timeline as to when these deaths occurred so I converted the PDF list to a csv and made a graph and a few tables.

The graph is noisy, but nonetheless a few trends jump out.

Deaths rose slowly through the 1990s until 2006 and 2007 then dropped. Presumably this reflects declining labor demand in the EU. There is an isolated jump in 2009, but deaths are low in 2008 and 2010.

Deaths spike sharply in 2011, especially March of that year, which coincides with regime collapse in Libya. (Since 2004 Gaddafi had been suppressing migrant traffic as part of a secret deal with Italy). Deaths were low again by late 2011.

The dog that didn’t bark is that migrant deaths were relatively low throughout 2012 and 2013, notwithstanding the Syrian Civil War.

In October 2013 there was a major shipwreck, after which the Italians launched Operation Mare Nostrum, in which the Italian Navy would rescue floundering vessels. For the first few months this seems to have been successful as a humanitarian effort, but  eventually the Peltzman Effect took to sea and deaths skyrocketed in the summer of 2014. After this spike (and the budget strain created by the operation), the Italians cancelled Operation Mare Nostrum and deaths decreased briefly.

Operation Triton replaced Mare Nostrum, which was a) a pan-European effort and b) less ambitious. The post-Mare Nostrum death lull ended in spring of 2015.

European Union states had widely varying migration policies during 2015, with some enacting restrictionist policies and others pro-migration policies. Although there were many migrant deaths in 2015, they were mostly in the spring. Angela Merkel’s various pro-immigration statements (circa September and October of 2015) do not seem to have yielded a moral hazard effect on deaths, perhaps because this was almost simultaneous with the EU getting an agreement with Turkey to obstruct migrant flows. In any case, migrant deaths were relatively low in the last quarter of 2015 and first quarter of 2016. Deaths were very high in March and April of 2016 and overall 2016 was the worst year for deaths in the EU migration crisis.

In 2017 deaths declined back to 2015 levels, being high in both years but not as high as the peak year of 2016. It is too early to describe trends for 2018 but deaths in the first quarter of 2018 are lower than those of any quarter in 2017.

migrants

*http://unitedagainstrefugeedeaths.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/ListofDeathsActual.pdf
*ran PDF through pdf/csv translator then stripped out lines with regex for lines not starting w digit
cd "C:\Users\gabri\Dropbox\Documents\codeandculture\eumigrants\"
import delimited ListofDeathsActual.csv, varnames(1) clear
keep if regexm(found,"^[0-9]")
drop v7-v30
gen date = date(found,"DMY",2019)
format date %td
gen n=real(number)
sum n
gen week=wofd(date)
format week %tw
gen month=mofd(date)
format month %tm
gen year=yofd(date)
save eudeaths.dta, replace
table month, c(sum n)
table year, c(sum n)
collapse (sum) n, by(week)
sort week
lab var n "deaths"
twoway (line n week)
graph export migrants.png, replace

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jdgalt  |  June 21, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    This suggests that rescue operations caused more deaths, probably by encouraging more migrants to set out in unsafe ships.

    Reply
    • 2. gabrielrossman  |  June 21, 2018 at 4:36 pm

      Yes, that would be the moral hazard interpretation which I think is plausible, but not certain. A better analysis would have to account for a lot more things (for start, how many of the deaths were drownings).

      Reply
    • 3. Fr.  |  June 22, 2018 at 11:28 pm

      The boats are not operated by the migrants/refugees themselves, and the various kinds of boats used are likely to have an effect at least as large as moral hazard (which supposes pretty good information on EU operations among smugglers and migrants/refugees). Same goes for the quality of the life jackets sold near departure areas.

      Re: controls (comment #2), I’d look first and foremost at point of departure. Libya is literally a mass grave, and not just because its smugglers sent thousands to their deaths at sea: crossing the desert might have killed just as many, to say nothing of murders and torture at the hands of militiamen or other rebel groups.

      The ‘moral hazard’ effect was called the ‘pull factor’ effect by European conservative politicians at the time.

      Reply

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