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Unit 2

2.10 Push and Pull Factors in Migration

3 min readapril 30, 2020

Edmund Scanlan


Push Factors

The first reason people migrate are push factors, which are reasons why people leave somewhere. This is closely related to forced migration. People leave places for a number of reasons:
War can cause people to leave as they fear for their lives and sometimes the lives of their families. The war in Syria has caused over 5 million people to flee the country according to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). 
Oppression causes people to leave their country. Unfortunately people are persecuted throughout the world. Some are persecuted for their religion (Christians in Sudan). Some are persecuted for speaking out against their government (journalists jailed in Myanmar). Others are persecuted for the ethnicity or race (black people in South Africa under apartheid).
Natural disasters and/or environmental reasons can also cause people to move from their homes. The population of New Orleans dropped by over a quarter of a million people since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Pull Factors

The second reason people migrate are pull factors, which are reasons why people go to a particular place. This is closely related to voluntary migration. People move to places for a number of reasons.
Economic reasons are by far the number one reason people move to a place. They are seeking better opportunities for themselves and their family. This is why people from the developing world move to countries in the developed world.
People may move because a country has a better political climate, or is in a better environmental situation. However, that is rare compared to better job opportunities. In the United States there are some sanctuary cities, which provide special protection for immigrants who are undocumented coming into the country. 

Intervening Obstacles

People migrating can face obstacles and intervening opportunities along the way.
Environmental obstacles are physical features like deserts, oceans, mountains, or logistical problems like traveling long distances. 
Political obstacles could be proper documentation (Visas or Passports), or getting past man made obstacles like an exclusion wall.
Cultural obstacles can be a problem as well. At times, citizens the country people are migrating into are afraid their unique culture will be lost. Immigrants sometimes get blamed for unemployment, high welfare rates, or crime.
Demographics could be a reason people are leaving an overpopulated country. It could also be a reason they cannot enter a country. Some places have quotas on how many people of certain countries are allowed to move in. Once that number is met more people cannot migrate there.  
Economic reasons could also be a reason why people cannot migrate from a country or get into a country. Many developing countries have corrupt systems that make applying for visas or passports very expensive and still difficult to receive. At times, coming into a country can be expensive and deter people from being able to enter. Sometimes migrants that are traveling to a specific country find intervening opportunities and end up moving to a destination they did not intend to originally. Many Syrians set out to migrate to Germany, but ended up in Serbia.
This is because they found a supportive government there and a warm welcome from the Serbians. 

Ravenstein’s Laws of Migration

  1. Majority of migrants do not move far away from their homes.
  2. Every migration generates counter-migration or a return.
  3. Migrants who choose to move far go to cities with more opportunity for jobs.
  4. People from rural areas are more likely to migrate than people from urban areas.
  5. Young adults are more likely than families to migrate internationally.
  6. Majority of migrants are adults.
  7. Cities tend to grow by migration and not by natural increase rate.
  8. Men are more likely to travel long distances.
  9. Those men are more likely to travel by themselves and not with their family.
  10. Most people migrate for better economic activities. 
There may be environmental and cultural factors that are important, but usually not more than economic activities 🎥 Watch: AP HUG - Causes of Migration

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