Skip to content

Border Proximity and Attitudes toward Free Movement in Africa

How does proximity to an international border influence attitudes toward the free movement of people in Africa? Often conceptualised as barriers, borders also represent opportunities for people to get higher prices for goods, pursue better services, or seek refuge from persecution.

Analysing georeferenced Afrobarometer survey data from 44,807 respondents in 32 countries, they find that respondents who live in closer proximity to an international land border are more likely to support free movement than those living farther away. These findings hold even when accounting for interacting with people from neighbouring countries, having co-ethnics across the border, and living near a refugee camp, suggesting that the opportunities associated with border proximity tend to outweigh any risks.