Internal migration

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Internal migration refers to human migration within one geopolitical entity, usually a nation. Reasons for internal migration tend to be different from those for cross-border migration; whereas the latter often occurs primarily for political or economic reasons, reasons for internal migration prominently include travel for education and for economical, but not for political, reasons. A general trend of movement from rural to urban areas has also produced a form of internal migration, leading to rapid urbanisation in many countries.

The history of many countries has seen massive internal migration:

  • The United States saw a massive internal migration from the eastern states toward the west coast during the mid nineteenth century, a similar large-scale migration of African Americans from the rural south to the industrialised northeast in the early to mid-twentieth century, and a large-scale reverse migration of African Americans from other parts of the country to the urban south beginning in the late 20th century and continuing to the present.
  • The United Kingdom has historically seen several migrations from the north of England to the south, and also from Scotland, Ireland (more recently Northern ireland) and Wales to England. This was most prevalent during the industrial revolution, and also in the aftermath of the Irish potato famine.
  • In New Zealand, the drift to the north has seen the South Island gradually lose population to the main urban area, Auckland, in the country's far north.

Secondary Migration[edit]

A subtype of internal migration is the migration of immigrant groups—often called secondary migration or onward migration. Secondary migration is also used to refer to the migration of immigrants within the European Union.

In the United States, the Office of Refugee Resettlement is mandated to maintain data on and take into account the secondary migration of resettled refugees.[1] However, there is little data on secondary migration or programmatic structural changes based on that migration.[2] Secondary migration has be hypothesized as one of the driving forces behind the distribution of resettled refugees in the US.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1980 Refugee Act. Pub. L. 96-212. 94 Stat. 102. 17 March 1980. 
  2. ^ Ott, Eleanor (September 2011). "Get up and go: Refugee resettlement and secondary migration in the USA". New Issues in Refugee Research. No 219. 
  3. ^ Forrest, Tamar Mott; Brown, Lawrence A (7 April 2014). "Organization-Led Migration, Individual Choice, and Refugee Resettlement in the US: Seeking Regularities". Geographical Review 104 (1): 10–32. doi:10.1111/j.1931-0846.2014.12002.x. Retrieved 30 June 2014.