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The Push & Pull Factors of Human Migration

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  • 0:12 What is Human Migration?
  • 1:13 Push Factors
  • 1:58 Pull Factors
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you will be able to explain what human migration is and give examples of push and pull factors that can be involved. A short quiz will follow.

What is Human Migration?

Humans might be creatures of habit, but historically we tend to move around a lot. Most families in the USA, for example, did at one time live elsewhere. Human migration is the seasonal or long-term movement of humans from one area of the Earth to another. For example, if you move from the United States to Europe, you have just migrated. Or if you travel across the country to find a summer job, you also have just migrated. Or if your family were, several generations ago, from the country of Poland, your family is said to have migrated (or immigrated, which is a similar word).

There are many possible reasons that humans might migrate: economic reasons, social reasons, and physical reasons. Economic factors include things like searching for jobs or higher pay. Social and physical reasons usually involve forcible migration, like fleeing from persecution or intolerance or a natural disaster.

But reasons for migration can also be split into push or pull factors. Today we're going to talk in more detail about this way of categorizing the reasons for human migration.

Push Factors

A push factor is a reason for migration that relates to the area the person comes from - something that is pushing them out of an area. Examples of push factors include economic factors, like a lack of economic opportunity and jobs. For example, the seasonal migration of Mexicans and Central Americans to the United States.

But there are also social factors, like escape from religious or cultural persecution, such as the Huguenots in 16th Century France and Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. And then there are physical push factors, like natural disasters - towns and villages being destroyed by volcanoes, hurricanes, flooding, drought, and earthquakes. Wars also tend to lead to a lot of push factors - most wars lead to large numbers of refugees.

Pull Factors

A pull factor is a reason for migration that relates to the area of destination - something that is attracting them to an area. Examples of pull factors include an area being economically prosperous - having lots of jobs or a particularly large amount of freedom, making it a haven for those who are escaping from religious or cultural persecution. Sometimes this can be accidental, but countries have at times advertised themselves specifically to encourage migration. For example, a lot of countries were short on workers after World War II.

An area can also be economically attractive if it has lots of natural resources - for example, finding gold and oil attracted people to the west of the USA; both businessmen looking to make money and miners and engineers looking for work. A thriving new industry can also be attractive. Then there are environmental pull factors, like a pleasant climate.

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