In this paper we use both quantitative and qualitative data from Ghana to explore the relationship between migration, legal status and poverty reduction. Drawing on analysis of the experiences of return migrants to Ghana, we note that the 'legality' of migration is complex, as different types of formal documentation are required for different countries, and at different stages of the migration process. Using a probit model, we investigate the factors determining the acquiring of formal documentation at the time of departure, arguing that poverty is associated with an increased likelihood of irregular migration. We then use a multinomial logit model to gain some insights into changes in well-being during the period spent abroad. Although limited by the dataset available for the analysis of changes in subjective poverty status, we show that those who were able to travel with formal documents were more likely to have moved out of poverty by the time of their return. This suggests that international migration is unlikely to provide a secure route out of poverty for many Ghanaians within a restrictive immigration environment, as they become trapped in more vulnerable and less sustainable migration processes. Interpretation of the quantitative analysis is enriched by discussion of more qualitative data that explores what migrants understand by 'legal' migration, their chances of improving livelihoods whilst abroad, and the sustainability of return.
WP-T19, Sussex, UK, DRC on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty, 28 pp.