Human migration

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Further information: History of human migration
Net migration rates for 2011:[1] positive (blue), negative (orange), stable (green), and no data (gray)

Human migration is the movement by people from one place to another with the intentions of settling temporarily or permanently in the new location. The movement is typically over long distances and from one country to another, but internal migration is also possible. Migration may be individuals, family units or in large groups.[2]

Nomadic movements are normally not regarded as migrations as there is no intention to settle in the new place and because the movement is generally seasonal. Only a few nomadic peoples have retained this form of lifestyle in modern times. Also, the temporary movement of people for the purpose of travel, tourism, pilgrimages, or the commute is not regarded as migration, in the absence of an intention

Migration statistics[edit]

Many estimates of statistics in worldwide migration patterns exist. The World Bank has published its Migration and Remittances Factbook annually since 2008.[3] The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has published a yearly World Migration Report since 1999. The United Nations Statistics Division also keeps a database on worldwide migration.[4] Recent advances in research of migration via the Internet promise better understanding of migration patterns and migration motives.[5][6]

Substantial internal migration can take place within a country, either seasonal human migration (mainly related to agriculture and to tourism to urban places), or shifts of population into cities (urbanisation) or out of cities (suburbanisation). Studies of worldwide migration patterns, however, tend to limit their scope to international migration.

The World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook of 2011 lists the following estimates for the year 2010: total number of immigrants: 215.8 million or 3.2% of world population. In 2013, the percentage of international migrants worldwide increased by 33% with 59% of migrants targeting developed regions.[7] Almost half of these migrants are women, which is one of the most significant migrant-pattern changes in the last half century.[7] Women migrate alone or with their family members and community. Even though female migration is largely viewed as associational rather than independent migration, emerging studies argue suggest complex and manifold reasons for this.[8]

Often[quantify] a distinction is made[by whom?]between voluntary and involuntary migration, or between refugees fleeing political conflict or natural disaster vs. economic or labour migration, but these distinctions are difficult to make and partially subjective, as the motivators for migration are often correlated. The World Bank's report estimates that, as of 2010, 16.3 million or 7.6% of migrants qualified as refugees. At the end of 2012, approximately 15.4 million people were refugees and persons in refugee-like situations - 87% of them found asylum in developing countries.[7]

Structurally, there is substantial South-South and North-North migration, i.e., most emigrant from high-income OECD countries migrate to other high-income countries, and a substantial part (estimated at 43%) of emigrants from developing countries migrate to other developing countries. The United Nations Population Fund says that "[w]hile the North has experienced a higher absolute increase in the migrant stock since 2000 (32 million) compared to the South (25 million), the South recorded a higher growth rate.[7] Between 2000 and 2013 the average annual rate of change of the migrant population in the developing regions (2.3%) slightly exceeded that of the developed regions (2.1%).[7]

The top ten destination countries are[when?]:

The top ten countries of origin are:

The top ten migration corridors worldwide are[when?]: 1. Libya–European Union 2. Mexico–United States; 3. Russia–Ukraine; 4. Ukraine–Russia; 5. Bangladesh–India; 6. Turkey–Germany; 7. Kazakhstan–Russia; 8. Russia–Kazakhstan; 9. China–Hong Kong; 10. China–United States.[citation needed]

Remittances, i.e., funds transferred by migrant workers to their home country, form a substantial part of the economy of some countries. The top ten remittance recipients in 2010 were (estimates in billion US dollar) 1. India (55; 2.7% of GDP), 2. China (51; 0.5% of GNP), Mexico (22.6; 1.8% of GDP), Philippines (21.3; 7.8% of GDP), France (15.9; 0.5% of GDP), Germany (11.6; 0.2% of GDP), Bangladesh (11.1; 7.2% of GDP), Belgium (10.4; 1.9% of GDP), Spain (10.2; 0.7% of GDP), Nigeria (10.0; 1.9% of GDP).[citation needed]

The Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM), launched in 2003, published a report in 2005.[10] International migration challenges at the global level are addressed through the Global Forum on Migration and Development and the Global Migration Group, both established in 2006.

The United Nations reported that 2014 had the highest level of forced migration on record: 59.5 million individuals, caused by "persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations", as compared with 51.2 million in 2013 (an increase of 8.3 million) and with 37.5 million a decade prior. As of 2015 one of every 122 humans is a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.[11] National Geographic has published 5 maps showing human migrations in progress in 2015 based on the UN report.[12]

Theories for migration for work in the 21st century[edit]


There are a number of reasons why people choose to migrate to another country. Globalisation has increased the demand for workers from other countries in order to sustain national economies. Known as "economic migrants," these individuals are generally from impoverished developing countries migrating to obtain sufficient income for survival.[13] This income is usually sent home to family members in the form of remittances and has become an economic staple in a number of developing countries.[14] People also move or are forced to move as a result of conflict, human rights violations, violence, or to escape persecution. In 2013, it was estimated that around 51.2 million people fell into this category.[13] Another reason people move is to gain access to opportunities and services or to escape extreme weather. This type of movement is usually from rural to urban areas and is known as "internal migration." [13] Socio-cultural and geo-historical factors also play a major role. In North Africa, for example, being an immigrant in Europe is considered a sign of social prestige. Moreover, there are many countries which were former European colonies. This means that many have relatives that live legally in Europe, who often constitute an important help for immigrants who have just arrived in a European country. Relatives might help for job researchers and accommodations. The geographical proximity of Africa to Europe and the long historical ties between Northern and Southern Mediterrean countries also prompt many to migrate.[15]

There are a number of theories to explain the international flow of capital and people from one country to another.[16]

Neoclassical economic theory[edit]

This theory of migration states that the main reason for labour migration is wage difference between two geographic locations. These wage differences are usually linked to geographic labour demand and supply. It can be said that areas with a shortage of labour but an excess of capital have a high relative wage while areas with a high labour supply and a dearth of capital have a low relative wage. Labour tends to flow from low-wage areas to high-wage areas. Often, with this flow of labour comes changes in the sending as well as the receiving country. Neoclassical economic theory is best used to describe transnational migration, because it is not confined by international immigration laws and similar governmental regulations.[16]

Dual labour market theory[edit]

Dual labour market theory states that migration is mainly caused by pull factors in more developed countries. This theory assumes that the labour markets in these developed countries consist of two segments: tertiary, which requires high-skilled labour, and primary, which is very labour-intensive but requires low-skilled workers. This theory assumes that migration from less developed countries into more developed countries is a result of a pull created by a need for labour in the developed countries in their secondary market. Migrant workers are needed to fill the lowest rung of the labour market because the native labourers do not want to do these jobs as they present a lack of mobility. This creates a need for migrant workers. Furthermore, the initial dearth in available labour pushes wages up, making migration even more enticing.[16] A rapid change can be diagnosed in 21st century when labours from less developed countries are treated as high-skilled immigrants a they play a crucial role in tertiary segment.

The new economics of labour migration[edit]

This theory states that migration flows and patterns cannot be explained solely at the level of individual workers and their economic incentives, but that wider social entities must be considered as well. One such social entity is the household. Migration can be viewed as a result of risk aversion on the part of a household that has insufficient income. The household, in this case, is in need of extra capital that can be achieved through remittances sent back by family members who participate in migrant labour abroad. These remittances can also have a broader effect on the economy of the sending country as a whole as they bring in capital.[16] Recent research has examined a decline in U.S. interstate migration from 1991 to 2011, theorising that the reduced interstate migration is due to a decline in the geographic specificity of occupations and an increase in workers’ ability to learn about other locations before moving there, through both information technology and inexpensive travel.[17] Other researchers find that the location-specific nature of housing is more important than moving costs in determining labour reallocation.[18]

Relative deprivation theory[edit]

Main article: Relative deprivation

Relative deprivation theory states that awareness of the income difference between neighbors or other households in the migrant-sending community is an important factor in migration. The incentive to migrate is a lot higher in areas that have a high level of economic inequality. In the short run, remittances may increase inequality, but in the long run, they may actually decrease it. There are two stages of migration for a worker: first, they invest in human capital formation, and then they try to capitalise on their investments. In this way, successful migrants may use their new capital to provide for better schooling for their children and better homes for their families. Successful high-skilled emigrants may serve as an example for neighbors and potential migrants who hope to achieve that level of success.[16]

World systems theory[edit]

World systems theory looks at migration from a global perspectives. It explains that interaction between different societies can be an important factor in social change within societies. Trade with one country, which causes economic decline in another, may create incentive to migrate to a country with a more vibrant economy. It can be argued that even after decolonisation, the economic dependence of former colonies still remains on mother countries. This view of international trade is controversial, however, and some argue that free trade can actually reduce migration between developing and developed countries. It can be argued that the developed countries import labour-intensive goods, which causes an increase in employment of unskilled workers in the less developed countries, decreasing the outflow of migrant workers. The export of capital-intensive goods from rich countries to poor countries also equalises income and employment conditions, thus also slowing migration. In either direction, this theory can be used to explain migration between countries that are geographically far apart.[16]

Historical theories[edit]


Certain laws of social science have been proposed to describe human migration. The following was a standard list after Ravenstein's (1834-1913) proposal in the 1880s. The laws are as follows:

  1. every migration flow generates a return or countermigration.
  2. the majority of migrants move a short distance.
  3. migrants who move longer distances tend to choose big-city destinations.
  4. urban residents are often less migratory than inhabitants of rural areas.
  5. families are less likely to make international moves than young adults.
  6. most migrants are adults.
  7. large towns grow by migration rather than natural increase.
  8. migration stage by stage.
  9. urban rural difference.
  10. migration and technology.
  11. economic condition.


Lee's laws divide factors causing migrations into two groups of factors: push and pull factors. Push factors are things that are unfavourable about the area that one lives in, and pull factors are things that attract one to another area.[19]

Push Factors

  • Not enough jobs
  • Few opportunities
  • Inadequate conditions
  • Desertification
  • Famine or drought
  • Political fear or persecution
  • Slavery or forced labour
  • Poor medical care
  • Loss of wealth
  • Natural disasters
  • Death threats
  • Desire for more political or religious freedom
  • Pollution
  • Poor housing
  • Landlord/tenant issues
  • Bullying
  • Discrimination
  • Poor chances of marrying
  • Condemned housing (radon gas, etc.)
  • War

Pull Factors

  • Job opportunities
  • Better living conditions
  • The feeling of having more political and/or religious freedom
  • Enjoyment
  • Education
  • Better medical care
  • Attractive climates
  • Security
  • Family links
  • Industry
  • Better chances of marrying

See also article by Gürkan Çelik, in Turkish Review: Turkey Pulls, The Netherlands Pushes? An increasing number of Turks, the Netherlands’ largest ethnic minority, are beginning to return to Turkey, taking with them the education and skills they have acquired abroad, as the Netherlands faces challenges from economic difficulties, social tension and increasingly powerful far-right parties. At the same time Turkey’s political, social and economic conditions have been improving, making returning home all the more appealing for Turks at large. (pp. 94–99)

Climate cycles[edit]

The modern field of climate history suggests that the successive waves of Eurasian nomadic movement throughout history have had their origins in climatic cycles, which have expanded or contracted pastureland in Central Asia, especially Mongolia and the Altai. People were displaced from their home ground by other tribes trying to find land that could be grazed by essential flocks, each group pushing the next further to the south and west, into the highlands of Anatolia, the Pannonian Plain, into Mesopotamia or southwards, into the rich pastures of China. Bogumil Terminski uses the term "migratory domino effect" to describe this process in the context of Sea People invasion.[20]

Other models[edit]

  • Migration occurs because individuals search for food, sex and security outside their usual habitation.[21] Idyorough is of the view that towns and cities are a creation of the human struggle to obtain food, sex and security. To produce food, security and reproduction, human beings must, out of necessity, move out of their usual habitation and enter into indispensable social relationships that are cooperative or antagonistic. Human beings also develop the tools and equipment to enable them to interact with nature to produce the desired food and security. The improved relationship (cooperative relationships) among human beings and improved technology further conditioned by the push and pull factors all interact together to cause or bring about migration and higher concentration of individuals into towns and cities. The higher the technology of production of food and security and the higher the cooperative relationship among human beings in the production of food and security and in the reproduction of the human species, the higher would be the push and pull factors in the migration and concentration of human beings in towns and cities. Countryside, towns and cities do not just exist but they do so to meet the human basic needs of food, security and the reproduction of the human species. Therefore, migration occurs because individuals search for food, sex and security outside their usual habitation. Social services in the towns and cities are provided to meet these basic needs for human survival and pleasure.
  • Zipf's Inverse distance law (1956)
  • Gravity model of migration and the friction of distance
  • Buffer Theory
  • Stouffer's theory of intervening opportunities (1940)
  • Zelinsky's Mobility Transition Model (1971)
  • Bauder's regulation of labour markets (2006) "suggests that the international migration of workers is necessary for the survival of industrialised economies...[It] turns the conventional view of international migration on its head: it investigates how migration regulates labour markets, rather than labour markets shaping migration flows."[22]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ South Sudan#Independence .282011.29
  2. ^ "Migrations country wise". Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Oiarzabal, P. J.; Reips, U.-D. (2012). "Migration and diaspora in the age of information and communication technologies". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 38 (9): 1333–1338. doi:10.1080/1369183X.2012.698202. 
  6. ^ Reips, U.-D., & Buffardi, L. (2012). Studying migrants with the help of the Internet: Methods from psychology, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 38(9), 1405-1424. doi:10.1080/1369183X.2012.698208
  7. ^ a b c d e "International Migration 2013 (wall chart)". UNFPA. 2013. 
  8. ^ Thapan, M. (2008). Series Introduction in Palriwala and Uberoi (Eds.), Women and Migration in Asia (p. 359). New Delhi: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-0-7619-3675-6 (Pb)
  9. ^ India, Russia and the UK figure in both lists, as they have substantial immigration and substantial emigration, but also because the ranking reflects absolute numbers and thus favours large countries.
  10. ^ The 90-page report, along with supporting evidence, is available on the GCIM website
  11. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Worldwide displacement hits all-time high as war and persecution increase". Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  12. ^ Chwastyk, Matthew; Williams, Ryan. "The World's Congested Human Migration Routes in 5 Maps". National Geographic News. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^ Jason de Parle, "A Good Provider is One Who Leaves" New York Times, April 22, 2007.
  15. ^ Fanack. "The Key Drivers of North African Illegal Migration to Europe". Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f Jennissen, R. 2007. "Causality Chains in the International Migration Systems Approach." Population Research and Policy Review 26(4). 411 – 36.
  17. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Understanding the Long-Run Decline in Interstate Migration, April 2012
  18. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, The Role of Housing in Labour Reallocation, November 2010
  19. ^ Everett S. Lee (1966). "A Theory of Migration" 3. University of Pennsylvania. pp. 47–57. JSTOR 2060063. 
  20. ^ Terminski, Bogumil. Environmentally-Induced Displacement. Theoretical Frameworks and Current Challenges. CEDEM, Université de Liège, 2012
  21. ^ Idyorough, 2008
  22. ^ Bauder, Harald. Labour Movement: How Migration Regulates Labour Markets. Oxford University Press, 1st edition, February 2006, English, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-19-518088-6




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Online Books

Documentary films[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]