Human Migration Definition Reasons and Examples | Why People Migrate

Fri, 12/18/2015 - 07:33 -- Umair Khan

Human Migration Definition

Human migration is different compared to the animal migration. It is the movement of people from one place to another to seek permanent or semi-permanent residence. The movement usually happens across the political boundary. It could be a semi-permanent movement, if you are a seasonal farm laborer. The movement can be voluntary and involuntary. Migration can be intercontinental, intracontinental, interregional or rural to urban migration. In 2014, the United Nations reported highest level of 59.5 million forced migration of people due to violence, conflict and persecution. These figures of human migration in 2013 were 51.2 million (noticeable increase of 8.3 million). A decade ago this figure was 37 million.  As of 2015 one of every 122 humans is a refugee seeking asylum or internally displaced.

Most destination Countries for Human Migration

  1. The United State
  2. Germany
  3. Canada
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. France
  6. Australia
  7. The United Kingdom
  8. Spain
  9. India

The originated countries from where people migrated to other part of the world

  1. Mexico
  2. Russia
  3. China
  4. Philippine
  5. Turkey
  6. Ukraine
  7. Bangladesh
  8. Pakistan
  9. India

Why Do People Migrate?

If you are wondering why people migrate, there are plenty of reasons that explain why. When it is the matter of moving, people consider the advantages and disadvantages. They also consider factors like travel time, travel cost, distance, terrain, mode of transportation and cultural barriers. Here are some reasons that explain why people migrate:

Push Factors: These are the reasons which force people to leave their place of origin to settle to another place. War, flood, shortage of food, etc are some of the common reasons that cause people to move.

Pull Factors: These are the reasons in another place that are attractive or desirable and they force you to move to that place. These factors include better food supply, nice climate, freedom and more.

Other factors that influence people moving one to another place include:

  1. Environmental factors like natural diseases and climate
  2. Political factors like war
  3. Economic factors like wages or work condition
  4. Cultural factors like education or religious freedom.

Place Utility: It is idea of an individual regarding place utility for comparing the value of living in a different or new location. A place can become desirable due to its environmental, economic or social situation.

Intervening Opportunities:  The opportunities which are nearby are considered to be more attractive than the ones that are far away. Due to this reason, the migrants settle to locations that are closest to their place of origin.

Distance Decay: When the distance from one location is increased, the understanding of that place reduces. People like to settle to places which they are more knowledgeable of instead of those places which they have very little knowledge.

Reasons for Human Migration

There can be plenty of reasons which explain the reasons why humans migrate. They are pretty much similar to why people migrate. Let’s have a look at them:

  1. Food: It was the earliest cause of African migration. Land can only support people if food can be produced there. Although through the modern agricultural techniques, you can easy increase he output of food but in a situation when the population is too large, there will never be enough food for everyone.
  2. Space: In case the land is falling short and the population is increasing, that causes people to migrate. In case people don’t migrate in this situation, it can increase the spread of plenty of virulent diseases and violence outbreaks.
  3. Weather and Climate: This usually happens on a short term basis but weather events can also force people of an area to move to another region. These are severe troubles such as floods and storms which can cost your life. A drought can easily turn the fertile land into a desert area so in order to protect your family, it is in your best interest to migrate.


There are lots of examples of migrations. The early human migration was the one that occurred two million years ago. Researchers say that it was the Africans that left their continent and they traveled through Egypt. That was a major example but there are common examples as people moving to developed countries for the sake of making a better living.