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Study Notes

Introduction to Migration

AS, A-Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Migration in geography usually refers to the movement of humans from one place to another. It occurs when the perceived interaction of Push and Pull factors overcome the friction of moving.

Push factors: elements of the origin that are perceived negatively leading to a desire to leave.

Pull factors: elements of the destination that are perceived positively leading to place-attraction.

Friction of Moving: costs in time, finance and emotions in leaving one location and moving to another. The strength of the Pull and/or Push factors need to overcome these costs to cause potential migrants to turn that into an actual relocation.

Perception: how a geographical feature may be received be each individual. A quiet coastal resort may be seen as ‘boring’ by a teenager (and the ‘quietness’ a Push factor), but attractive to a retired couple (so a Pull factor). This may result in coastal resorts seeing a net out-migration of young people and net in-migration of the recently retired.

Net Migration: the sum change in migrant numbers between those coming into an area (in-migrants) and those leaving (out-migrants). If migration crosses international borders a person is an Emigrant from the country they leave and an Immigrant to the country they are going to.

Migration Classification

Migration types can be classified according to a range of criteria:

1. Migration Based on Distance

Intra-building: Movement within a building (e.g. user-movements in an airport terminal or hospital)

Inter-building: Pedestrian patterns between a complex of buildings (e.g. students moving over a University campus)

Local scale: Moving house to another within a town or city

Regional scale: Migrating within a country from one county/state to another

International scale: Migrating from one country to another (emigration/immigration)

Global scale: Migrating between distant continents

2. Migration Based on Duration

Daily: Commuting to and from work each day often resulting in ‘rush hours’

Seasonal: Winter snow-sport enthusiasts to the Alps; Summer sun-seekers to the Mediterranean; nomadic herders to fresh grazing pastures.

Medium-term temporary: Working in an overseas TNC branch office for a few years; taking up a university course; working in a developing city to pay off rural debts.

Permanent: Emigrating to another country with no intention of returning.

3. Migration Based on Motive

Forced (Environment): Fleeing a region of drought / flood / desertification / eruption

Forced (Political): Threats to freedom, safety and liberty due to religious, ethnic, racial or political persecution, conflict or war. (Leads to Refugees and Asylum-Seekers)

Collective Behaviour: Moving as part of an identified group to maintain group cohesion (Traveller communities, nomadic groups, ethnic groups)

Personal Aspiration: Desiring an improved standard of living for yourself or your family through gaining economic and social benefits; Economic migrants.

Personal Well-Being: Migration for health reasons (retirees to Florida), or perceived quality of life (relocating to rural areas for a less frenetic pace of life)

Some key migrations affecting the geography of contemporary regions:

  • Rural-Urban migration in developing economies resulting in rapid urbanisation.
  • Suburbanisation and Counter-urbanisation from the cities of mature economies leading to urban sprawl or diffusion of urban characteristics into the rural-urban fringe.
  • Refugee migrations from areas of conflict in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan)
  • Economic migrations between areas of highly contrasting economic situations (from north Africa to Europe, from Mexico to the USA)
  • Tourism migrations as more people have disposable income to spend on travel and leisure.

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