Narratives are more than just words: They shape the way we see what surrounds us and what we think, believe, and do. How policymakers, community leaders, and members of the public see and talk about migration is, thus, intimately connected to the design and implementation of policies that affect not just newcomers, but the health of communities and countries as a whole. With the number of international migrants on the rise globally, there is new urgency to understand how different narratives about migration develop, spread, and take root.

The Migration Policy Institute, RAND Corporation, National Immigration Forum, and Metropolitan Group have launched a multiphase research project to examine migration narratives, including why different narratives resonate and under what conditions they shift. The project aims to inform policymaking as well as public discourse and communication about migration, in the process opening space for reasoned discourse.

This report explores prominent migration narratives in five case-study countries—Colombia, Lebanon, Morocco, Sweden, and the United States—which are diverse in their income levels, ethnoreligious backgrounds, types of migration, and historical context, yet for whom migration has triggered significant nationwide public and policy debates. The study identifies patterns within and across these countries, highlighting both similar and diverging narratives as well as gaps in knowledge of migration narratives and their efficacy.

Read the full brief about narratives surrounding migration by Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, Haim Malka, and Shelly Culbertson at Migration Policy Institute.