Internal migration

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Internal migration or domestic migration is human migration within a country. Internal migration tends to be travel for education and for economic improvement or because of a natural disaster or civil disturbance.[1] Cross-border migration often occurs for political or economic reasons. A general trend of movement from rural to urban areas, in a process described as urbanisation, has also produced a form of internal migration.[citation needed]


Many countries have experienced massive internal migration.

  • The United States has experienced the following major migrations:
    • A massive internal migration from the eastern states toward the west coast during the mid-19th century.
    • Three waves of large-scale migration of African Americans: first from the agricultural south to the industrialized northeast and midwest in the early 20th century, a second movement in the same direction with new additional destination to the West from roughly 1940 to 1970, and finally a reverse migration from other parts of the country to the urban south beginning in the late 20th century and continuing to the present.
    • The depopulation of the rural Great Plains since the early 20th century, with many rural counties today having less than 40% of their 1900 population.
    • A steady migration, starting during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s but accelerating after World War II, of all ethnicities toward the Sun Belt of the southern and western U.S.
    • An ongoing migration of mostly working- and middle-class people of all ethnicities, but especially whites, from California to other states since about 1990, called the California Exodus.
  • 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 Great Famine of Ireland.
  • In New Zealand, the drift to the north has seen the South Island gradually losing population to the main urban area, Auckland, in the country's far north.
  • In Philippines, due to a centralised government and almost unequal distribution of government power and funds, people from the provinces head to Metro Manila to look for better jobs and opportunities. This has been continuing since then, although in much smaller numbers now, with Metro Cebu and Metro Davao now increasingly becoming more popular as alternative destination for internal migrants.
  • In Italy, during the country's economic miracle in the 1950s and 1960s, the so-called "industrial triangle" of Northwest Italy experienced waves of immigrants coming from Southern Italy, due to the southern portion of the country remaining underdeveloped and stricken with poverty. The peak was reached between 1955 and 1963, when as much as 1,300,000 southern workers moved to the northern industrial cities. After a pause in the 1980s the north–south migration has resumed, this time headed to other areas of the north and Central Italy.

Secondary migration[edit]

A subtype of internal migration is the migration of immigrant groups—often called secondary 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, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services's Administration for Children and Families, is tasked with managing the secondary migration of resettled refugees.[2][3] However, there is little information on secondary migration and associated programmatic structural changes.[4] Secondary migration has been hypothesised as one of the driving forces behind the distribution of resettled refugees in the United States.[5]

Somalis and secondary migration in the United States[edit]

Somalis, a refugee group that was initially widely dispersed in the United States, has formed significant communities in Minnesota, Ohio and Washington.[6] Secondary migration to Minneapolis, Minnesota and Columbus, Ohio, has made those two areas first and second, respectively, in Somali American population.[6] Geographer Tamara Mott states that being near family, friends, and other Somalis was the main reason Somalis migrated to Columbus, OH.[7]

Lewiston, Maine, became a secondary migration destination for Somalis after social service agencies relocated a few families there in February 2001.[8] Between 1982 and 2000, resettlement agencies placed refugees, including 315 Somalis, in the Portland, Maine area.[8] High rates of rental housing occupancy in Portland led to the first relocations to Lewiston.[8] Somalis have a history of nomadism and maintain contact, often via cell phone, with a large network of extended family, clan members, and friends.[8] More Somalis learned about Lewiston and were attracted by the quality of life there, the low housing costs, good schools, safety and greater social control of their children in the smaller town.[8] Between February 2001 and August 2002 over 1,000 Somalis moved to Lewiston.[7] Most of these early secondary migrants came from Clarkston, Georgia, a suburb just outside Atlanta.[8] By 2007, Somalis were 6.5% of the population of Lewiston[9] and had come to the city from all over the United States and at least three other countries.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Migration Report 2020". IOM World Migration Report. 2019-11-27. doi:10.18356/b1710e30-en. ISBN 9789290687894. ISSN 2414-2603.
  2. ^ 96th Congress (March 17, 1980). "Public Law 96-212" (PDF). United States Government Publishing Office. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  3. ^ 1980 Refugee Act. Pub. L. 96-212. 94 Stat. 102. 17 March 1980.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  4. ^ Ott, Eleanor (September 2011). "Get up and go: Refugee resettlement and secondary migration in the USA". New Issues in Refugee Research. No 219.
  5. ^ 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. S2CID 145203163.
  6. ^ a b Forrest, Tamara Mott; Brown, Lawrence A. (Jan 2014). "Organization-Led Migration, Individual Choice, and Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.: Seeking Regularities". Geographical Review. 104 (1): 10–32. doi:10.1111/j.1931-0846.2014.12002.x. S2CID 145203163.
  7. ^ a b Mott, Tamara E. (Feb 2010). "African refugee resettlement in the US: the role and significance of voluntary agencies". Journal of Cultural Geography. 27 (1): 1–31. doi:10.1080/08873631003593190. S2CID 145626526 – via MasterFILE Elite.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Huisman, Kimberly A.; Hough, Mazie; Langellier, Kristin M.; Toner, Carol Nordstrom, eds. (2011). Somalis in Maine: Crossing Cultural Currents. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books. pp. 23–56. ISBN 978-1-55643-926-1.
  9. ^ Nadeau, Phil (Summer 2007). "The New Mainers: State and local agencies form partnerships to help Somali immigrants". National Civic Review. 96 (2): 55–57. doi:10.1002/ncr.180 – via Advanced Placement Source.