External Migration: Causes, Factors And Consequences

The external migration  is the movement of people moving from one country to another by changing its place of residence permanently or for a long period. Two types of migration are distinguished: internal migration (people emigrate within the same country or region) and external migration (people emigrate from one country to another).

Every year millions of people cross international borders for a variety of reasons. Some cross borders for leisure, some for vacation, some for business. However, a large proportion of travelers leave their countries with no intention of going back, being called immigrants.

An example of external migration occurs with Syrian refugees

The reasons for their migration can be economic, political, social or environmental. Generally, work motives play an important role, and there are usually push and pull factors in the workplace to decide to emigrate.

There are also two key terms, emigration and immigration, as considered, respectively, from the point of view of leaving or entering the country.

Article index

  • one

    Causes of external migration

  • two

    Push and pull factors

  • 3

    Global migration patterns

  • 4

    Consequences of external migration

  • 5


Causes of external migration

The reasons for migration are very varied. When it comes to internal migration, the reasons are often educational or financial. 
For example, in the 19th century, many people migrated from the east coast to the west coast of the United States to take advantage of economic opportunities.

Regarding external migration, it is a phenomenon that has always existed, playing an important role in human development, particularly in the structural configuration of the population of many countries (such as the United States, Canada, Australia, South America).

The causes of external migration can be economic or educational, although they are also often motivated by political, family, religious, environmental factors or associated with natural disasters (earthquakes, droughts, etc.).

In general, economic factors are the main cause of emigration throughout the world. Among these reasons, we can distinguish between labor migration (when the reason for emigrating is based on the search for a job) and brain drain (or highly skilled migration, which refers to the migration of trained professionals motivated by the search for better job opportunities ).

International migrants can also be refugees or asylum seekers fleeing war, natural disasters, religious or political discrimination.

Within external migration, two categories can be differentiated, according to its duration.

Temporary external migrants are those people who move only for a fixed period of time, such as a work contract, a study program or the cessation of an armed conflict.

Permanent external migrants are those who plan to obtain citizenship or at least a permanent residence in the country to which they are moving.

Push and pull factors

Among the most compelling reasons that induce people to move to a new place and abandon their residence, push and pull factors stand out. These factors may have an economic, political, cultural or environmental basis.

Push factors refer to the conditions that tend to push people to leave their homes, they are strong reasons and are related to the country from which the person emigrated.

Some examples of push factors are: job insecurity, limited opportunities, precarious living conditions, desertification or drought, famine, political fear and fear of persecution, natural disasters, etc.

On the contrary, the attraction factors are those that attract people to a certain place. Among them, it is worth mentioning: job opportunities, better living conditions, greater political and / or religious freedom, access to a better educational or health system, enjoying greater security, etc.

Global migration patterns

Along with births and deaths, migration is one of the three demographic components of population change, and it has often been described as the most difficult to measure, analyze and predict.

It is estimated that 3% of the world’s population are foreign migrants, with the United States being the country with the largest number of immigrants.

In other regions, such as Asia, Latin America and Africa, the emigration rate exceeds that of immigration, while in North America, Europe and Oceania, the opposite effect occurs, that is, the percentage of immigrants exceeds that of emigrants .

The three largest external migration flows are from Asia to Europe, from Asia to North America, and from Latin America to North America.

The global pattern reflects the importance of migration from less developed countries to more developed countries.

Migrants from countries with relatively low incomes and high growth rates tend to go to slightly richer countries, where job prospects are slightly more favorable.

According to recent statistics, more than 20 million people have become forced immigrants, that is, refugees, in recent years due to international and interregional conflicts, civil wars, natural difficulties, hunger and poverty.

Consequences of external migration

One of the main causes of migration is war, like the Syrian War and has serious consequences such as discrimination, in the case of refugees.

External migration is a global phenomenon that progressively increases in scope, complexity and impact. Migration is both a cause and an effect of broader development processes and an intrinsic feature of an increasingly globalized world.

Migration can be a very positive force for development, when supported by the right set of policies.

The migratory pattern is increasingly complex and has a strong impact on countries, which is why international migration presents various challenges in order to guarantee optimal global mobility, in an era in which the movement of goods, information and capital is becoming increasingly important. more free.


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