Migration Push and Pull Factors/ Global Migration Patterns

Migration can be defined as a form of relocation diffusion (the spread of ideas, innovations, behaviors, from one place to another) involving permanent move to a new location. The reasons that people migrate would be due to push and pull factors. Push and Pull factors are forces that can either induce people to move to a new location or oblige them to leave old residences; they can be economic, political, cultural, and environmentally based. Push factors are conditions that can drive people to leave their homes, they are forceful, and relate to the country from which a person migrates. A few example of push factors are: not enough jobs in your country; few opportunities; "Primitive" conditions; desertification ; famine/drought ; political fear/persecution ; poor medical care; loss of wealth; and natural Disasters. Pull factors are exactly the opposite of push factors; they are factors that attract people to a certain location. Examples of these push factors are job opportunities; better living conditions; political and/or religious freedom; enjoyment; education; better medical care; and security. To migrate, people place so attractive that they feel pulled toward it.

Factors of Migration Push Factors Pull Factors
ECONOMIC People think about emigrating from places that have few job opportunities. Because of economic restructuring, job prospects often vary from one country to another and within regions of the same country. People immigrate to places where the jobs seem to be available. An area that has valuable natural resources, such as petroleum or uranium, may attract miners and engineers. A new industry may lure factory workers, technicians, and scientists.

CULTURAL Forced international migration has historically occurred for two main cultural reasons: slavery and political instability. Millions of people were shipped to other countries as slaves or as prisoners, especially from Africa to the Western Hemisphere. Wars have also forced large-scale migration of ethnic groups in the 20th and 21st centuries in Europe and Africa. Another push factor would be the fear of prosecution and these people would be refugees: people who have been forced to migrate from their homes and cannot return for fear of persecution. Political conditions can also operate as pull factors, especially the lure of freedom. People are attracted to democratic countries that encourage individual choice in education, career, and place of residence. After Communists gained control of Eastern Europe in the late 1940s, many people in that region were pulled toward the democracies in Western Europe and North America.
ENVIRONMENTAL Migrants are pushed from their homes by adverse physical conditions. Water-either too much or too little- poses the most environmental threat. Many people are forced to move by water-related disasters because they live in a vulnerable area, such as a floodplain. A lack of water pushes others from their land. Hundreds of thousands have been forced to move from the Sahel region of northern Africa because of their drought conditions. The capacity of the Sahel to sustain human life has declined because of population growth and years of low rainfall. Attractive environments for migrants include mountains, seasides, and warm climates. Proximity to the Rocky Mountains lures Americans to the state of Colorado, and the Alps pull French people to eastern France. England, France, and Florida attract migrants, especially retirees, who enjoy swimming and lying on the beach. Regions with warm winters attract migrants from harsher climates.




Economic Push/ Pull Factors: Most immigrants migrate for economic reasons. People think about emigrating from places that have few job opportunities and they immigrate to places where jobs are most likely to be available.
  • The United States and Canada have been prominent destinations for economic migrants near these regions.
  • Europe has been a larger destination for North African economic immigrants because it’s much closer than the United States or Canada.

Ravenstein’s Law of Migration. Ravenstein proposed a theory about human migration during the time frame of 1834 to 1913.
Ravenstein’s laws of migration are as follow:
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 less migratory than inhabitants of rural areas.
5) Families are less likely to make international moves than young adults.



Forced Migration - Refugees (Note: these two are distinctly separate)
Forced international migration has historically occurred two main cultural reasons: Slavery and political instability.

  • Forced international migration increased because of political instability resulting from cultural diversity.
  • Wars also forced large-scale migration of ethnic groups in the 20th century especially in Europe, the middle east, and some regions of Africa.
  • There are people who have been forced to migrate from their home and cannot return for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, and possibly their membership in a social group and political organization, these are known as refugees. Cultural push factors include political instability from cultural diversity.
  • Boundaries of newly independent states often have been drawn to segregate two ethnic groups.

Environmental Push/Pull Factors: People also migrate due to environmental reasons, pulled towards physically attractive regions and pushed from hazardous zones.
  • Attractive areas include mountains, sea side and warm climates. (For example, people with asthma, bronchitis, and allergies have been pulled to Arizona by the dry desert climate.)
  • Migrants can also be pushed from their homes by adverse conditions. Water-either too much or too little poses as an environmental threat. Many people are forced to move by water related disasters because they live in floodplains. Floodplains are areas that are subjected to flooding during a specific number of years, based on historic trends.
  • Lack of water pushes other from the land because of droughts(for example, in the United States(1930s) the Dust Bowl occurring, following limited years of rainfall, thousands of families abandoned their farms and migrated to California.
  • In the process of immigrants trying to migrate they may face intervening obstacles, environmental or cultural features that hinder migration. (I.e. Many Americans that were lured to California due to the Gold Rush couldn’t reach their destination because they couldn’t overcome obstacles such as the Rocky Mountains or desert country.

Global Migration Patterns
  • Did you know that about 3% of the world’s population are international migrants, the country with the largest amount of immigrants is the United States.
  • Asia, Latin America and Africa have net-out migration. North America, Europe and Oceania have net-in migration.
  • The three largest flows of migrants are to Europe from Asia, to North America from Asia and from Latin America.
The Global pattern reflects the importance of migration from less developed countries to more developed countries. Migrants from countries with relatively low incomes and high natural increase rate tend to head for wealthier countries where job prospects are higher. The highest percentage of immigrants can be found in the Middle East, about ½ of the regions total population is an immigrant somewhere else, due petroleum exporting countries, immigrants are able to migrate their to perform dirty and dangerous jobs on the field as immigrants or guest workers.