Alongside the long-term migration systems that developed between Europe and the Americas, Atlantic migration history is replete with anomalous events—migration “fevers” that lie outside well-described norms in migratory processes. Prospect theory finds risk-seeking behavior to have been a compelling pre-condition for two instances of such migration fever in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as for their subsequent cascade effects, creating a social dynamic of “irrational” migration. Prospect theory provides a testable framework for understanding why and how short-lived migration episodes acquired so much force and intensity and points toward a broader relationship with accepted decision-making structures in migration studies.

You do not currently have access to this content.