Cause and effects of migration

Migration is the movement of people from one permanent home to another. This movement changes the population of a place. International migration is the movement from one country to another.

People who leave their country are said to emigrate. People who move into another country are called immigrants. The movement of people into a country is known as immigration.

Every year some people leave the UK and move abroad. At the same time some people will move into the UK. Immigrants add to the total population and emigrants are subtracted from the total.

Sometimes people just move from one region to another within the same country. In many developing countries, large numbers of people have moved from the countryside to the cities in recent years. This is called rural to urban migration.

Why do people migrate?

Sometimes people have a choice about whether they move, but sometimes they are forced to move. The reasons people leave a place are called the push factors. The reasons people are attracted to new places to live are called the pull factors.

Infographic of migration push and pull factors

Advantages and disadvantages of migration

Migration can bring advantages and disadvantages to the country which is losing people and also to the host country.

Country losing people

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Money sent home by migrantsPeople of working age move out reducing the size of the country's potential workforce
Decreases pressure on jobs and resourcesGender imbalances are caused as it is typically men who seek to find employment elsewhere. Women and children are left
Migrants may return with new skills'Brain drain' if many skilled workers leave

Host country

AdvantagesDisadvantages
A richer and more diverse cultureIncreasing cost of services such as health care and education
Helps to reduce any labour shortagesOvercrowding
Migrants are more prepared to take on low paid, low skilled jobsDisagreements between different religions and cultures

In addition, there are a number of obstacles that the migrant may need to overcome, including:

  • unemployment in new country
  • racism and cultural differences
  • language barriers
  • lack of opportunities

UK migration

Migrants come to the UK from a variety of countries. People from the UK also emigrate to countries around the world. Immigration is not new and the UK has been a multicultural society for thousands of years. Many people in the UK are descended from previous settlers and invaders such as the Romans, Vikings, Saxons and Normans.

Recent migrants include people from other European countries such as Poland. Any European Union resident is usually free to work in other European Union countries. This freedom of movement has encouraged migration.

Another type of migrant is an asylum seeker, someone who has been forced to leave their own country because they are in danger, eg fleeing as a result of their religious beliefs or the danger of war.

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