3. 3 Why Do People Migrate? Push factors

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3.3 Why Do People Migrate?

Push factors

Incentives for people to leave

Disaster, political strife, economic downturn

Pull factors

Incentives that attract immigrants to a place

Economic opportunity, pleasant climate, family

Drought in Abala, Niger

Flooded Mississippi

Floodplain – the area surrounding a river subject to flooding

Can be associated with a certain number of years

100-year floodplain

Place Utility

A measure of a person’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a place

Case Study: Ireland

Migration trends can change dramatically over time

1850s – severe economic out-migration

1990s – economic prosperity made Ireland a destination, especially for Eastern European immigrants

2008 recession pushed them back into out-migration

Rust Belt

Northern industrial states once dominated by heavy industry

1960s-1980s, economic base moved away to booming areas of US and abroad for cheaper labor

Results were population loss and urban decay

Old machinery rusted in the moist northern climate

Sun Belt

Region that has grown most dramatically since WWII

Primarily due to immigration for weather

Cotton Belt

The term by which the American South used to be known

Agricultural economy historically dominated by cotton

Now known as the New South or part of Sun Belt

Question Time!

How might distance decay affect migration?

What are some push and pull factors that you’ve experienced?

What factors motivated your family/ancestors to migrate?


People who left their home country as involuntary migrants

Very little property carried

Little access to transportation

Often no official documents

May seek asylum

Protection granted by destination country

Asylum seeker – someone who has migrated to another country in the hope of being recognized as a refugee

Internally Displaced Person (IDP)

A forced internal migrant

Guest Worker

Immigrants that were temporarily allowed to immigrate to work

Protected by minimum wage, labor union contracts, etc

Expected to return home

Many in Europe stayed and started families

Europe’s guest workers

German and other affluent European nations had guest worker programs in the 1960s and 70s

14 of 16 countries with highest per capita income are in Northern and Western Europe

Pull factor

China’s Migrant Workers

40 million Chinese citizens live in other countries

30 million in SE Asia

5 million in N America

2 million in Europe

Now neighbors are coming for factory jobs

Especially from Vietnam

Tiny in number compared to internal migrants

SW Asia’s Migrant Workers

Southwest Asia (the Middle East)

Wealthy oil regions attract immigrants from poorer neighboring countries (Egypt, Yemen)

Late 20th century

Many immigrants from South and Southeast Asia

India, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand
Poor working conditions


2011 Philippines stated that only Israel and Oman were safe for Filipino workers

Oil producing countries have resistance to the presence of workers

Fears of sparking political unrest or undermining traditional Islamic customs

Question Time!

Why would street cleaning or construction jobs be attractive for immigrants to Europe or SW Asia?

Chain migration

Individuals follow the migratory path of preceding friends or family to an existing community


Money sent home from an immigrant worker

Trail of Tears

Indian Removal Act of 1830

Authorized the US Army to forcibly move 5 tribes to Oklahoma

46,000 individuals

25 million acres for white settlement

Traditional subsistence became impossible

Case Study: Sahel Forced Migration

Drought in the Sahel region of northern Africa

Pastoral nomads

Sustainable at low density

Pastoralists in Mali

Case Study: Columbia Forced Migration


380,000 people forced to flee their homes in 2008

Due to fighting between security forces and guerilla groups

Case Study: North Korea Forced Migration

North Korea

Predominately leave for economic reasons

Political and ideological factors also significant

South Korea offers citizenship to all North Koreans

Technically at war with one another since the Korean war (1950-1953)

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