Morocco has a population of 36 million people and is located in the Maghreb (North-Western region of Africa). Its close localization to Europe and strategic position in the Mediterranean place Morocco as a country of high migrant mobility across the two continents.

According to Berriane et al (2015), the patterns of outmigration can be summarized in four main phases, which highlight the labour-related nature of Moroccan migration to Europe:

  1. 1967 – 1973: West-European economic boom and first labour recruitment policies aimed at Moroccan workers.
  2. 1973 – 1989: first policies of family reunification and French regularization of Moroccan migrants.
  3. 1989 – 2007: South-European economic boom and regularization policies in Spain and Italy, where Moroccans start to migrate.
  4. After 2008: Global economic crisis and period of austerity policies in European countries, saw increased mobility of irregular migration and stronger policies of migration control.

According to UN available data of 2019, the number of Moroccan-born individuals living abroad was approximately of 3,1 million. About 80% of the Moroccan diaspora lives in Europe and less than 5% in North America. In Europe, France is the leading receiving country with almost 33% of the share, followed by Spain (26%) and Italy (16%). In North America, the US hosts 2.5% and Canada 2.25%.

The National Survey on International Moroccan Migration developed by the National Institute of Statistics (HCP) shows that the main reason for departure is predominantly economic, namely seeking for labour opportunities. According to this same survey, return to Morocco is also a relatively recent phenomenon. Casablanca-Settat and Rabat-Salé are the main destinations for returnees, followed by Béni-Mellal-Khénifra and Tanger-Tetouan-Alhoceima. Interestingly, a significant percentage of returnees (60%) have had two countries of destination before return and the duration of the migration experience is of 13 years on average. The primary reason for return is predominantly family reunification and retirement.

The MIGRADEMO project will investigate the political impact of Moroccan emigration on three levels:

The impact of financial and social remittances on the political attitudes and behaviour of those that receive them back home: According to World Bank data for 2019, remittances received are  5.6% of the GDP but have been gradually decreasing since 2007. Nevertheless, the impact of remittances in the country of origin has a clear influence on living standards of families and relatives through improvement of households’ expenditures or investment in infrastructures, as several studies on remittances’ impact on socioeconomic development in Morocco have shown. Some rather limited efforts have been made to grant voting rights to the Moroccan diaspora abroad; however, the diaspora’s political impact in Morocco has been mainly channelled through the engagement of MREs organizations from abroad

The impact of migration on the proliferation, orientation and activities of the civil society: According to the Civicus Index, civil society organizations (CSOs) in Morocco are not widespread, with existing CSOs mostly dedicated to development issues, culture and sports. CSOs committed to civic participation are limited but their internal practice of values is deemed as highly democratic, which may in turn boost their promotion of participative democracy. According to an official survey on Moroccan non-profit institutions, CSOs are mainly concentrated in the urban area of Rabat-Salé (14%), said to have one of the highest rates of return migration, but also in the predominant rural area of Souss-Maasa-Draâ (14%). MREs’ participation in Moroccan CSOs has also been noted, mainly through organizations focused on so-called co-development.

The impact of migration on the outlook and engagement of political elites: the preliminary research by the MIGRADEMO on Moroccan political elites has found that around 10% of the 395 MPs in the House of Representatives of the current legislature (2016-2021) have had a migratory experience in a Western democracy, mainly related to an academic endeavour. 

Last updated: 15/09/20