The Sahel region has one of the most mobile populations in the world, with migration serving as a common household strategy to increase livelihood and social resilience. However, the Sahel region's population is extremely heterogeneous, and the processes and factors that contribute to migration are complex. Consequently, recent empirical studies yielded conflicting conclusions regarding the processes that drive migration. This study was designed to increase our understanding of the factors that drive migration in the Sahel region. We performed a systematic meta-analysis of English-language literature to synthesise the empirical evidence collected from 53 case studies covering eight Sahelian countries. We analysed the frequencies of a broad range of drivers that affected migration processes during the past three decades. Our results show that the primary impetus for driving migration is a combination of economic and social motivations, which together account for 80% of all drivers that were identified in the case studies. In contrast, only 11% of the identified drivers are related directly to demographic and/or environmental conditions. Moreover, we conclude that the majority of case studies do not explore causation among migration drivers, which clearly hampers our understanding of migration mechanisms taking place in the Sahel region. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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