Push And Pull Factors Of Migration

Push and pull factors of migration are driven by the push of conflict, extreme hardship, war, lack of economic opportunities, etc. combined with the pull of more jobs, the promise of a better life, freedom to practice one’s religion, etc.

There are many different factors that contribute to migration. These factors are categorized either as push or pull factors, which are always influenced by politics and economics. But, how do politics and economics influence push and pull factors of migration?

Before we can go into what these factors are, it is important that we understand the main key terms.

What Do You Need To Know? 

Migration is as natural as breathing, as eating, as sleeping. It is part of life, part of nature. So we have to find a way of establishing a proper kind of scenario for modern migration to exist. And when I say ‘we’, I mean the world. We need to find ways of making that migration not forced. – Gael Garcia Bernal

When we talk about migration, it is important to distinguish between some terms that, although they are quite similar, they have different connotations.

So, let’s look at them separately.

The first term that we need to understand is “migration”. When we talk about migration we are talking about the movement of people between places. So, when someone moves from one place to another, we talk about migration. We could say that that person is migrating. But there are two other terms that are closely related to “migration” but are each given a rather opposite connotation. I am referring to the terms “emigration” and “immigration”. In both cases, we would be talking about migrations but in a more specific way by either adding the prefix e- or im-.

  • Emigration” is the term we use when a person leaves a country and moves to another.
    • Normally, a person emigrates from the country he or she was born at to another one.
  • The term “immigration”, on the other hand, is how we would define the movement into a country.
    • This term is used from the perspective of the new country a person moves to.

So, while “emigration” has the connotation of leaving a country, “immigration” has the connotation of entering a country. But, in either case, we are talking about “migration”.

What Are the Political Reasons That Influence the Push and Pull Factors of Migration?

The possible political reasons behind the push and pull factors of migration can be very diverse.

Very often war or totalitarian (autocratic) regimes are a push factor of migration. Why? Because people often migrate to escape political conflict (mostly, war) or possible political persecution.

What Are the Economic Reasons That Influence the Push and Pull Factors of Migration?

The possible economic reasons that determine the push and pull factors of migration could be linked or, rather, be the result of the political reason I pointed out earlier.

If we look at this we would find factors such as poverty and, also, high unemployment. In other words, many people migrate in search of stable employment elsewhere.

Are There Any Other Reasons That Influence the Push and Pull Factors of Migration?

Yes, although political and economic factors rank high in the push and pull of reasons why people migrate they can, indeed, be others.

Image by Kazi yangu via Wikipedia is licensed under CC0

There can also be social push factors that are often linked to economic reasons. Some social push factors could include the lack of suitable medical facilities in the country of origin, the lack of free or affordable education of an acceptable standard, or anything else that would offer them a better standard of living in a different country, also including a high crime rate in the country of origin. Also, people tend to migrate to countries where they already know people they are close to, for example, friends or family.

But social push factors are not the only reasons that would increase migrants’ standard of living. There can also be environmental push factors. People may move to countries or regions that have less extreme weather conditions. Other environmental reasons to migrate could include either an attempt to avoid or to escape from natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.

In fact, many people migrate for a combination of different reasons that are influenced by several factors rather than just one. This is because those factors are all too often linked to each other.

Push Factors

Push factors are those that make people decide to leave their country and go somewhere else.

The main political and economic push factors people migrate to the United States, Canada, or Western European countries may include the following:

Generally, migrants leave their countries because they are escaping poverty, unemployment, and fear of either political persecution or violent crime.

What follows is a list of some of the most common political and economic push factors:

  • Poor infrastructure that results in services that fall short of being adequate.
  • Famine often caused by bad crops or unfavorable weather conditions.
  • Lack of adequate medical care.
  • High levels of long-term unemployment.
  • Extreme poverty and lack of socio-economic upward mobility.
  • Few career and educational opportunities.
  • The fear caused by high crime rates.
  • Poor standards of living.
  • The fear of political persecution that could even result in jail time.

Pull Factors 

Pull factors, on the other hand, are the ones that make people decide to go to a different country. A useful way of thinking about pull factors is what attracts migrants to go to a specific country.

So, what are the main pull factors that attract migrants to the United States, Canada, Australia, and the most prosperous European countries include the following:

  • Migrants are in search of personal and financial safety; or opportunity in terms of employment, education, social class mobility. They are also looking for freedom and stability.

What follows is a list of some of the most common political and economic pull factors:

  • Better infrastructure that results in inadequate facilities and services.
  • Better healthcare and medical facilities such as hospitals.
  • Better job and educational opportunities.
  • Lower crime rates as a result of a combination of generally higher living standards and better, less corrupt, and more efficient police force.
  • Democratic political stability.
  • A generally higher standard of living.
  • More entertainment and better cultural options, which are a result of higher standards of living, higher education levels, and more disposable income.

As you can see, many pull factors are just the other side of the coin of push factors and vice versa. In other words, all pull factors to combat the push factors. So the reasons why people leave their countries and the reasons why they choose specific countries to migrate to are always closely linked.

About The Author

Juan Ramos

Juan has been writing about science for over a decade and regularly keeps up with technological and scientific advancements. Juan is known for taking complex research and technology and presenting it in an easily digestible form for education. Juan holds a Master's degree from The Open University in the UK.

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