Global Migration


Global Migration

Migration is linked to the process of globalisation. The largest group of migrants are economic migrants who send remittances back home. There are also a growing number of refugees and asylum seekers. Net migration is the difference between number of immigrants and emigrants for a particular country.

Migration Flows:

  • International Migration (UK) - the main countries of origin for UK immigrants are India, Poland and Pakistan. The main countries of destination for UK emigrants are Australia, USA and Canada. Main reasons for emigration include employment opportunities, retirement and being reunited with families abroad. Women represented just over half of the UK's immigrant population in 2013. London has 36% of immigrants in its population- mostly from India.
  • Inter-regional Migration (Africa and Middle East to Europe) - escaping conflict. 3300 people died in Mediterranean Sea crossings in 2014. Syria and Eritrea accounted for the largest number of migrants arriving in Italy by sea in 2014. Other routes include crossings between Turkey and Greece and West Africa and Spain.
  • Intra-regional Migration (within the EU) - in 2012, 1.7 million people resident in an EU country migrated to another EU country. Germany is a popular destination. Main motive for migration is economic, e.g. Polish migrants attracted to UK by greater employment opportunities, higher wages and a better SOL. In 2013, there were 660,000 Poles living in the UK and 40,000 UK residents living in Poland- mostly professionals working for MNCs and attracted to lower cost of living.
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Migration and Socio-Economic Development

Close relationship between migration and development for 2 reasons:

1. Migration can contribute to economic development by providing workforce and new skills; also paid employees lead to the multiplier effect as their income stimulates further growth.

2. Inequalities in income levels between different lifestyle countries generate movement of people seeking a better lifestyle.

In addition, the value of remittances is a significant factor in the development process. In EDCs and LIDCs remittance payments can contribute to large proportion of a country's GDP, they also boost the spending power of the families who recieve remittance payments and stimulate economic growth. Remittances are affected by restictive immigration policies of developed countries and cost of travel.

Impacts of Migration:

  • Stability - youthful migrants can balance the population structure of a previously ageing population in a host country. Countries can become more economically stable as a result of migration, for a host country if the wages are spent within the country, the revenue will boost the economy. Also, for a home country, remittances are a source of foreign exchange  which will boost the economy, e.g. remittance corridors between the US and Mexico. Migrants can return home with new ideas of democracy and inequality which can contribute to a country's political stability.
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Impacts of Migration

  • Growth - migrants in reproductive age groups means an increase in birth rates and population growth. This can have benefits to a host country as a more youthful, expanding population means more workers in the future but also more childhood dependents put pressure on resources. Economic growth can be achieved in a number of ways for the host country; labour/ skills shortages can be addressed, migrants may provide cheaper labour, an increase in the size of workforce can provide an economic boom and trigger the multiplier effect, tax revenue increase. For the country of origin, remittance payments and siutations where migrants return home with new skills can both create economic growth.
  • Development - for a country of origin, the reduced pressure on food, water and energy resources, health services and decline in unemployment can allow development to take place but it is dependent on the demographic of the migrant groups. The situation is helped if remittances are sent home. Organisations such as the UN have 'migration and development projects' which partner countries providing and recieving migrants in socio-economic development projects. Development can take place when returning migrants bring home new skill sets and are able to maintain linkages and benefit from the flows of ideas, resouces and finance.

Migration can also cause inequalities, conflicts and injustices for both the host country and the country of origin. Conflict can develop for a number of reasons between the migrant population and the host communities, migrants can be exploited through pay and conditions, in the host country they represent a vulnerable group within society. 

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Factors Influencing Migration


  • Inter-Regional - migration of highly skilled workers (graduates, technology and science experts) from China, India and Brazil to the USA. Also, migration of workers from countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the oil-producing Gulf States, e.g. Saudi Arabia, attracted by a high demand for labour and a free flow of remittances.
  • Intra-Regional - an increase of the international migrant stock from ASEAN member states with flows of low-skilled workers from countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar to the fast-growing economies of Thailand and Malaysia. Increased migration within South America to countries such as Argentina and Chile which can offer more employment opportunities and higher wages than source areas. Return migration flows within the EU as young workers who took low-skilled jobs in another country return home with a higher level of skills to more prestigious jobs.
  • Internal - internal migration flows, for example within EDCs such as India and Brazil where economic development is concentrated in core areas, often urban centres.

Female Migrants - young workers who are mobile and skilled seek job opportunities and a better QOL in more affluent countries, e.g. young male construction workers migrating from India to the Middle East and Dubai. Female migrants make up large percentages of all migrants in regions like Europe and North America. Reasons include greater independence, women with highly developed skills sets migrating from continents such as Africa and women moving from countries where they still face job discrimination, e.g. China. 

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Factors Influencing Migration Patterns

Flows of migrants in South-South corridors - in 2013, South-South international migration flows were greater than South-North flows. Reasons include: labour migration, the flow of refugees escaping conflicts in places like Myanmar and South Sudan and restrictive administeration barriers for migrants from the South to the North; a number of fast-growing economies in the South; an increase in the awareness of opportunities in countries in the South; and the increased costs of moving long distances from the South to the North.

Conflict and Persecution - a refugee is someone who leaves their country of origin or usual domicile because of fear of persecution or death. According to the UN, the number of refugees has risen from 15.7 million in 2012 to 19.5 million in 2014. Syria has become the largest source of refugees, while Turkey was the largest recipient of refugees. An asylum seeker is a person who seeks entry to another country by claiming to be a refugee. Those judged not to be refugees can be sent back to their home country. The largest number of applications are recieved in the Russian Federation, Germany and the USA. The main reasons for large numbers of refugees globally include the effects of conflict, political persecution, economic hardship and the impacts of hazards.

Changes in Immigration and Emigration Policies - migration policies are put in place by individual countries to meet their specific requirements and political needs. The motivations may differ. In ACs, there may be more protectionist measures and migrants may only be accepted if they satisfy certain skills requirements in the host country, e.g. the points system in Australia. Developing countries will benefit from higher levels of migration where remittances are sent home to form a stimulus for economic growth and a boost to GDP.

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Influencing Factors for Migration

Development of Corridors of Bilateral Flows - a bilateral migration flow is a movement of migrants between two countries. One of the largest and the most long-standing is that betweem the USA and Mexico. Influences on bilateral flows include: close proximity reducing the cost of travel, ease of access, ease of sending remittances, employment opportunities and higher wages, the push effects of conflict or persecution, cultural historic factors such as language and former colonial influence.

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