Migration essay: international population movements in the modern world

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8 October 2015

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Modern Migration Drivers


            In global integration, movement of people features prominently. A majority of destination countries prefer entry of high skilled laborers over low skilled workers, refugees and asylum seekers. Modern world migration is extremely precipitated by the rising inequality levels in human security and income between and among developed and developing countries. In addition, other driving factors of modern day migration include uneven economic developments, technological advancements in communication and transport and rapid demographic changes. While migrating from one location to another, migrants retain transnational connections rather than social existence (Castles & Miller, 2009). The onset of global economic slur in 2008 elicited a hiatus in a number of these factors, thereby undermining the long term significance of these factors. This paper sets out to explore the modern world’s factors that drive migration.

            The number of people who moved in 2010 in international migration totaled to 191 million, according to the UNHCR. The key driver in international migration is globalization of international economies coupled with integration of worldwide factor markets. Globalization of such markets as goods, information, financial capital, services and commodities has inspired movement of people subject to human capital and labor needs (Delia, 2012). Global integration is presently prevalent in unskilled labor and skilled labor immigrations.

            Contrary to the perception of most people, migration has been an opportunity for international integration and development rather than a threat. The business corporation world has changed divested in its core objective of making profits to pursue the triple p mantra of people, profits and planet. Businesses focusing on people and planet pursued sustainability initiatives and these have become the integral features among businesses globally. Migration in globalized world is fueled by the need to dissipate and distribute skills and resources. For instance, investors are moving into the outskirts of financially concentrated regions to invest elsewhere (Fortunati, & Pertierra, 2011). The number of investors moving from commercial hubs such as New York and London to emerging and developing economies in Asia, Africa, South America and Europe is astounding.

            Notwithstanding, globalization of businesses has led to the mass exodus of people. Corporations are setting basis in different corners of the planet. This demands exporting of human capital to tend to the ground issues as well as set pace for and advance the organizational business culture. For instance, Google Corporation established basis in China and had to move a sizeable number of its employees (Gavrilova, 2011). These employees moved with their families and settled in China.

            There is general consensus across the globe that globalization, over the years, has been on the rise since the end of the Second World War. It is regarded to imply the mobility of factors and goods across international boundaries reaching new and unprecedented heights. Nevertheless, migration restriction policies and laws have constrained modern migration that it was probably possible a century ago (UN Chronicle). What was virtually regarded as free global migration is at present tightly constrained due to tough immigration laws and policies that undoubtedly suppress potential migration.

            According to the United Nations, about 200 million between 2006 and 2010 across the globe were living in a foreign country different from where they were born (UN Chronicle). Certainly, this absolute number has increased over the years but world migrants in 2010 represented about 2.5% of the global population. These statistics, nevertheless, do not reflect the dramatic increase in world migration as a result of globalization. This is because there is a myopic conception that migration to the less developed nations have reduced significantly in stock. However, the stocks of migrants in developed worlds increased between 2006 and 2010 from 3.1% to 4.5% (UN Chronicle). Dramatic increase in global migration was phenomenal in North America, Australasia and Western Europe registering 4.9 to 7.6% increase (UN Chronicle).

            Indeed, the parameters on the rising trend in globalization are exceptionally impressive. Nonetheless, the rise in stocks of migrants are infinitely small compared to the rise in ratio of trade to gross domestic product as well as the ration of foreign capital to world capital stocks. The rise in migrant stock shares continue to remain small because of return and temporary migration continues to be common, thereby resulting to increased gross flows as compared to the net flows.

            In spite of the statistics provided by the ex-post world war migrations, the global community is witnessing migration pressures. For instance, the immigration departments of developed nations in developing countries feature extended queues for people lined to fill up immigration applications. The United States department of foreign migration stated that in 2010, the number of waiting list admission totaled to 3.6 million. Besides, the surge in illegal migration and especially across the United States southern border as well as into Western Europe from the south and the east is symbolic of the influx of migration. The immigration department in the United States recorded nearly 300,000 cases of illegal immigrants in 2010 alone (UN Chronicle). In the Western Europe, this figure is estimated to be about 400,000 to 500,000 immigrants (UN Chronicle). In the OECD countries, illegal immigrants are said to add ten top fifteen per cent stock to the foreign born children.

            Migration in international caucuses is also witnessed by the number of people seeking asylum in developed nations from developing countries. The UNHCR records documents over 560,000 applicants for asylum sought residence in 28 industrialized countries as at 2010 global statistics (UN Chronicle). The records further add that nearly double the successful asylum seekers are pending approval. Over the last 20 years, the current statistics have more than nearly doubled signifying a rising trend in global migration.

            Globalization of resources has also purposed migration. People tend to move to areas where there ideal resources are plentiful. For instance, the discovery of oil in Asian conventionally Islamic countries attracted massive flocking of Europeans and whites to these countries who settled around the oil rigs (Taylor, 2013). Sporadically scattered churches are a site to reckon in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. They are a living testimony to the Christianity influx in the region. Presence of Europeans and American families settled in Qatar is an indication of globalized culture and business.

            Resources endowment is another factor than fuels migration in the modern world. People tend to move from areas where the resources are in less supply to where they are in large supply. For instance, human pressure on available in Britain had led the government to engage in bilateral consensus with such governments as the Australian where lands are in excess supply (Economist). Besides, American scholars are migrating from the over concentrated academic institutions in United States to the short supplied in academicians institutions in Europe.

            Globalization of human capital has also favored proliferation of modern world migration. Skilled and semi skilled laborers are moving from countries where they are heavily concentrated to areas where such skills are in short supply. For instance, multiple Chinese companies are on the verge of importing skilled Chinese human capital to several African countries due to the short supply of specialized human capital (Economist). Besides, the proliferation of semi skilled labor demand in American and Canadian firms has attracted multilingual speakers such as Chinese and Arabs to work in various positions such as call centers and customer support desks.

            The limited supply of unskilled and cheap labor in America and other developed nations has led to migration of unskilled laborers tow fill up these employment gaps. The number of Mexican nationals spilling into United States through the porous borderline is significantly horrifying (Economist). Besides, thousands of Africans perish yearly when Europe bound boats ferrying migrants capsize in the Mediterranean

            Over the years, countries deemed migration as a pandemic and disastrous social plague. Therefore, governments issued tight rules for immigrants only preferring skilled laborers over unskilled laborers, refugees and asylum seekers. Incidentally, the realization of migration concept to economic innovation, integration and development spurred migration management concept rather than migration restriction (Economist). For instance, migration is crucial in distributions and development of technology. This is because the immigrants bring with them their technologies into the new settlements hence, promoting technological balance. Certainly, colonized worlds in Africa and Asia received advanced technologies such as railways through settlement of European settlers in their lands.

            Various economic and demographic fundamentals across the world have precipitated global migration in modern days. It is expected that in the future, the current migration trends will increase and peak over the prevailing statistics. Conventionally, it was held that migration was precipitated by income inequalities between nations (Economist). That is to say that poorest countries witness fewer immigrants than emigrants. Indeed, this was certainly true in the older migration eras such as the nineteenth century. This is because the poorest countries statistics today shows that there are fewer emigrants as compared to emigrant statistics in countries with higher per capita income.

            Therefore, the observation contradicts the perception that income inequality at home and abroad fuels modern migration. However, researches have identified a hump shaped correlation between emigration and economic development. This explains the low rates of emigration in poor countries as compared to moderately poor countries with higher per capita income (UNFPA). The paradox here is explained by demographic changes and structural changes cognizant with industrialization. Consequently, migration is high in earlier stages as compared to later stages.

            Still, poverty constrains limits migration. This is particularly so because financing such long term investments is a big challenge for the poor. Therefore, increasing the home income to help the locals “catch up” helps to relax the financial constraints. As a result, it propagates emigration. Notwithstanding, international migration increases with various selective factors such as individual level of skill, the reward abroad as compared to home reward, provided migration incentives, age of a person as well as perception to prestige. Essentially, global migration increases with a higher differential in incomes between home country and abroad, higher level of skills and higher affinity for prestige.

            Apart from economic factors, non economic factors are also essential in driving in modern world migration. These factors are specific to a person’s compensating differential. For instance, modern migration is influenced by the number of previous migrants that come from the home country living abroad. These include one’s friends, relations and family members. Indeed, social networks play an important role in international migration but it is not an alternative to economic migration model (UNFPA). Relative and social networks inspire destination specific migration because they reduce an immigrants’ destination utility such as accommodation, housing, job reference and placement as well as sufficing threshold immigration policies. For instance, a spouse will ultimately immigrate abroad to reunite the loved one. Indeed, even the strictest of immigration laws acknowledge a person’s spouse in immigration regulations. Besides, social networks mitigate migration costs abroad directly through gifts or loans.

            Another non economic factor that fuels migration is the migration policies, legislations and laws. Strict as well as relaxed migration laws determine which countries people will immigrate to and which ones to avoid. Immigration policies could be classified into two, namely; selective migration policies and quotas. Both policies clout from the associative costs of migration to the host nation. In the latter situation, visa competition characterized by the lengthy queues of people crowding immigration departments in foreign embassies raises migration costs. On the other hand, quotas are imposed to restrict immigration (UNFPA). There are two prominent elements of immigration policy are selection by skill and family reunification. The average rate of migration is dependent on average individual skills independent of operating effects such as destination and source earnings.

            In spite of the restrictive and constraining immigration policies that governments across the globe institute to limit immigration, the United States continues to lead as the destination of choice by many. Over the years, the population exodus to United States has preceded 600,000 people per annum. Apparently, the last century witnessed a decrease in the proportion of Western Europe immigrants to United States. However, a staggeringly huge population of immigrants from Eastern Europe flocked the U.S at the turn of the century (UNFPA). The Asian immigrants were a distance second in the mass exodus to United States following improved relations between the two continents. African continent marked a remarkable small figure although the number of African immigrants in the U.S has more than doubled in recent years.

            There are several explanations that are posted to explain the bellowing American immigration. Cross sectional studies on emigration and immigration trends indicate a negative relationship in inequality between the income per capital in the source country and the same parameter in the destination country. Similar studies have indicated that the most influential determinant of migration to the U.S is presence of stocks of previous immigrants from the source country. In addition, migration to the United States and Western Europe was factored by political rights, security and political stability both in the foreign country and the home country. Political strife and political instability in sterile countries in Africa such as Somalia has open migration lines into European countries such as Britain and France (UNFPA). The UNHCR estimates that the total asylum seekers in Britain native to Somalia since 1991 totals to over 200,000. Triple this number is refuges in neighboring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda.

            Migration into and from Africa over the years continues to be small as compared to other continents. Empirical studies further suggest that there is little internal African migration. Such a study in rural Botswana identified a positive and elastic migration trend when employment opportunities and wage rates are introduced in urban centers. In conclusion, migration in modern world is fueled by globalization, economic, non economic and demographic factors. Governments must nurture the potential of migration to leap economic development.


Castles, S., & Miller, M. J. (2009). The age of migration: international population movements in the modern world (4. ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Delia, E. P. (2012). The Determinants Of Modern Maltese Emigration. International Migration, 20(1-2), 11-25.

Fortunati, L., & Pertierra, R. (2011). Migration, Diaspora and Information Technology in Global Societies. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.

Gavrilova, I. (2011). Migration Policy In Modern Russia: To Be Or Not To Be. Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 2(2), 261-287.

(2013). Globalization of Migration: What the Modern World Can Learn from Nomadic Cultures. UN Chronicle, 3, 2-13. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://unchronicle.un.org/article/globalization-migration-what-modern-world-can-learn-nomadic-cultures/

Taylor, E. (2013, March 13). 1. INTRODUCTION AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. Food, Agriculture and Rural Development. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x9808e/x9808e07.htm

Economist. (2012, February 25). The Impact of Chinese Migration. The Economist. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.economist.com/node/21548277

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