Non-migration and immobility: the great unknown in migration studies

We like referring to 244 million international migrants or 21 or so internationally displaced refugees (2015), but still 7.1 billion people or 96.5 per cent of the global population are not migrants, 40 million displaced people have not left their country and hundreds of thousands of people have not even fled warzones like Aleppo or Donetzk – and this even though 2.1 billion or 35 per cent of the world population live in poverty whilst Gallup found that 630 million people have the aspiration to migrate. We seem to take for granted, and this is potentially biased, that it is migration that is the exception from the normal and the explanandum that requires explanation. But maybe the greater puzzle is, notably in light of often unviable living conditions, why so few people migrate, and there are two issues here, why so few seem to have the aspiration to migrate and why so few of those who have the aspiration to migrate nevertheless don’t realise their aspiration. In this lecture I will reframe existing evidence and also read some key migration theories against the grain in order to sketch an alternative research agenda.