The MAFE project is a major research initiative focused on migration between Sud-saharan Africa and Europe. It aimed at collecting unique data on the characteristics and behavior of migrants from Sud-saharan countries to Europe. The key notion underpinning the project was that migration must not only be seen as a one-way flow from Africa to Europe. The argument was that return migration; circulation and transnational practices are significant and must be understood in order to design better migration policy. The MAFE project focused on migration flows between Europe (Belgium; France; Italy; the Netherlands; Spain and the UK) and Senegal; the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana; which together accounted for over a quarter of all African migration to the EU at the time of the survey.
In each of these "migration systems"; the survey was designed to document four key areas:
- Patterns of migration : a) the socio-demographic characteristics of migrants; b) the routes of migration from Africa to Europe; and c) the patterns of return migration and circulation.
- Determinants of migration: looking at departure; but also return and circulation and taking into account the whole set of possible destinations.
- Migration and Development: MAFE documents some of the socio-economic changes driven by international migration; looking as often as possible at both ends of the Afro-European migration system; at the individual level.
- Migrations and Families: the data collected by the MAFE project can be used to study all sorts of interactions between family formation and international migration. Although the survey was primarily designed to study international migration; it can also be used to study other phenomena; especially in Africa: domestic mobility; labor market participation; family formation; etc.
Comparable data was collected in both 3 sending and 6 destination countries; i.e. in sub-Saharan Africa and in Europe. The data are longitudinal - including retrospective migration; education; work and family histories for individuals - and multi-level - (with data collected at the individual and household levels; in addition of macro-contextual data).