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Former Affiliated Researcher

Hannah Postel

Former Affiliated Researcher
King Center on Global Development

Hannah Postel was a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of economics. She uses novel data to explore the relationship between migration and economic development and provide historical perspective on population movements and policies. She received her PhD in demography and social policy from Princeton University; prior research has been published in the American Economic Review and Population and Development Review

Innovations in Methods and Data
Trade and Migration
Urbanization and Infrastructure



King Center Supported Research

2022 - 2023 Academic Year | Global Development Research Funding

Assessing African Migration Aspirations

Sub-Saharan Africa’s labor force will swell with 800 million new workers by 2050, a forecast sparking concern among European policymakers. Though the large majority of African migrants remain in neighboring countries, the idea that millions will soon overwhelm Europe remains widespread. Policymakers have poured billions of foreign aid dollars into deterring future movements by cracking down on the "root causes" of migration. However, neither policymakers nor academics have a strong understanding of the factors shaping migration aspirations for prospectively mobile Africans. Most existing research relies on cross-country regressions of past migration outcomes or vaguely worded survey questions. Though recent lab-in-field experiments have attempted to better understand migrant decision-making, most do not measure migration preferences directly.

Postel will implement a pilot study testing three ways of measuring migration aspirations and destination preferences. Her survey instrument consists of 1) a conjoint experiment on potential migration destination preferences, 2) survey questions on potential migration aspirations incorporating precisely defined counterfactuals, and 3) commonly used migration aspiration survey questions for comparison. Postel's ultimate goal is to develop a set of “best practice” research questions on this topic for both academic and policy use. The pilot will be conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa in late spring or summer 2023.