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Abstract

This paper seeks to understand the process by which immigrants decide whether or not to return to their home countries. It aims to analyse the potential for return migration rather than the actual migration process. Empirically, it is based on the narratives of 30 Turkish immigrants living in the United States. The findings indicate that: (1) multiple controllable and uncontrollable, micro- and macro-level factors in both the home and the host countries interact over time to tip the scales towards – or away from – return migration; and (2) most immigrants live in a perpetual state of ambivalence about whether or not to engage in return migration. These findings are discussed, and implications are presented for both practice and policy.