Migration Push and Pull Factors

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One in every 30 people, are living outside their country of birth in 2017 because of migration. With so many people who migrate, it is important to know why this comes to be. Why do people migrate? Migration is dependent on various push and pull factors to decide why to leave home, and where to go for another way of life.

Push factors are anything that help a person decide to leave a place. There can be a wide range of reasons to migrate, some of which are: political conflict, jobs, environment, and economic circumstances. Geographer Ernst Ravenstein said that reason to migrate can be the result of, “Bad or oppressive laws, heavy taxation, an unattractive climate, uncongenial social surroundings, and even compulsion.”① One important push factor can be war, which is considered forced migration. When people are forced to leave home with their lives on the line, or because they are taken, it is called forced migration

In March of 2011, a war broke out in Syria; it was against the rebels against the government and Bashar al-Assad. While this was happening, ISIS took the opportunity to come in and try to impose Islamic ideology in the areas they seized. Russia and China supported their government, while America and the UN timidly stepped in to help rebels, but not much was done for a while. It is a mess. Because of airstrikes, chemical weapons, ISIS taking cities, and artillery, an estimated 364,792–522,000 people have been killed, and 12 million people have fled either to other countries or other parts of Syria.② Who wouldn’t want to move out of there?

Forced migration often involves war, but can be for other reasons as well. Earthquakes, famine, disease, trafficking, flooding, and much more can force people to leave a place. In El Salvador, because of an earthquake and civil war, 25,000 people moved to the USA for refuge. The slave trade was another example of forced migration, where Africans were forced to get on boats and become slaves for those in south and north America.

On the other side of the scale of push factors, voluntary migration occurs when people decide that they don’t like where they are for various reasons, and want to move. This can be anything from bad economical situations to the government. If a family lives Northern Canada, where it is constantly freezing, they might move. If a guy lives in a place where there are no jobs available, he might move. If a woman has no rights in Saudi Arabia, she might move. You get the point.

Some migration can be both voluntary and forced. An example of this is when the pilgrims migrated to America to avoid religious persecution. They could have stayed in England where their religious views were considered treason, or they could have moved to their own country; they chose the latter. Another example of voluntary forced migration is when the Nazies were trying to take over Europe, many people who didn’t want to be under German rule, even if they weren’t in danger of being killed, they still needed to move to safer countries.

So now that we know what push factors are, the other contributor for the decision to move is pull factors. Pull factors are anything that helps a person decide to migrate to a certain place. Someone might become an immigrant to an area if there are job opportunities, nice weather, good environment, or common religion. Distance decay plays a role in migration because perceptions are more complete and framilier the closer to the location.

Deciding where to move can often be influenced by where family and friends settle, and when they send back good words about the place, others want to join them. These kinship links can then grow into chain and wave migration, where everyone wants to go to a place that has “good reviews” by friends. Pull factors are often vague, as they are based off of perceptions and hopes. Most people think that Hawaii seems like paradise… but not everyone knows that the cost of living is high, there is a lot of unemployment, and lava.

Push and pull factors are always found together when it comes to voluntary migration, but there are many parts that go into deciding to migrate. One common path that is followed in finding a new life is called step migration. It is where migrants have an end destination in mind, but get there is a series of stages. Sometimes while on their journey, an intervening opportunity comes up, and they decide that the option, weather it be a job or something else, is worth staying for instead of the end goal.

Migration is common, and there are both happy and sad endings. Next are two scenarios of migration that give insight into this.

A mom and her two daughters had been displaced from their home in Bhutan from a civil conflict there because it wasn’t safe, and became refugees in Nepal. They had been treated badly in the refugee camps, but then received the opportunity to join their cousin in Los Angeles. They they were excited to go; a quote from the article said, “But you know, you just know when you hear them talk and you see their faces, that they are going to be OK. They have been waiting years for this, the day of departure.”④ The future was looking bright for them. But migrating is not always this happy for everyone.

In the documentary God Grew Tired of Us, the sad story of 27,000 young boys demonstrates what it can mean to have forced migration and to become a refugee. In 1983, the civil war in Sudan became very violent and people in villages were being shot at. The young kids had no choice but to leave their family and home behind as they set off to find refuge. They settled for a while in the Kukuna refugee camp. When the boys were adults, 4,000 of them were brought to the USA to find jobs and have a new life. The transition was hard, and many of them never saw their families again, but the pull factors to go to America, and the push factors to leave Ethiopia made up their minds.

Every person’s reason for migration is different, whether it is fleeing for your life with only the clothes on your back, or moving to a country with better job opportunities. But what is the same is that push and pull factors decide where families and individuals end up calling home.


Cite this paper

Migration Push and Pull Factors. (2021, Oct 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/migration-push-and-pull-factors/

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