A Literature Review on the Usage of Agent-Based Modelling to Study Policies for Managing International Migration

Gabriele De Luca*, Thomas J. Lampoltshammer, Shahanaz Parven, Johannes Scholz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This literature review is dedicated to the subject of agent-based modelling for the system of international migration, and of the modelling of policies that are known to aid in its management. The reason for the selection of agent-based modelling as a framework for studying international migration is that the system of international migration presents the characteristics of a complex system: notably, its property of emergence, which therefore imposes the usage of a methodology for its modelling that is capable of reflecting its emergent traits. The policies that we study are those that intervene in the country of origin of emigrants and that are aimed at decreasing the aggregate volume of emigrants from that country. The reason for this choice is that policies in the countries of origin have become particularly attractive today, especially in European countries, under the assumption that it should be possible to prevent the migrants from reaching the point of destination of their journey if some kind of action is undertaken before the migrants arrive. We start by discussing the theoretical constraints that suggest how this approach may only partially be valid. Then, to assist the development of future agent-based models that study migration, we identify via topic mining the ten topics that are most commonly discussed in the literature on the application to the international migration of agent-based models; this lets us highlight the characteristics of an agent-based model that should be included when the research task relates to the usage of ABM to study international migration and its associated policies. Finally, we indicate why the existing literature on the modelling of international migration is missing a key aspect that is required to correctly model policies: the integration between agent-based approaches and systems dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number356
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • agent-based modelling
  • international migration
  • migration policies
  • system dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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