“If you want to decide the question of migration without asking your citizens against the will of the people, you are fighting a losing battle.”
Victor Orban, Politician
Migration: Causes, Effects & Solutions
Human migration can be defined as the movement of people with the intention to relocate to other areas on our planet. Migration can be caused by many different factors, including wars, famine or also just the opportunity for a better life abroad.
Migration can often be quite dangerous and many people risk their lives each year for a better life in a foreign country. In this article, the extent, causes, effects and solutions for migration are examined.
Development and Extent of Migration
People often migrate from poor developing countries to rich developed countries. Therefore, the net migration (difference between the number of immigrants and the number of emigrants) is often positive for developed countries while it is negative for poor countries.
Since 1970, the total number of migrants increased dramatically. In the early 21st century, most of the migration came from Africa and South-East-Asia.
While in 1970, the number of international migrants amounted to 85 million, in 2019, it increased to more than 270 million people. In terms of the worldwide population, the number of migrants had a 2.3% share in 1970 and a 3.5% share in 2019.
Data Source: United Nations Migration Report 2019
Causes for Migration
- Forced labor
- Insufficient medical care
- Natural disasters
- Wish for a better future
- Political instability
- Increase in illegal activities
- Poor housing
One important cause of migration is unemployment. If people are not able to find a job due to high structural unemployment, these people may not be able to make enough money to survive in those regions. Therefore, they have a big incentive to move to other countries in order to find better job opportunities.
In some areas, it is simply not possible to make a living since climatic conditions are too bad. This is especially true for farmers who live in areas with hot and dry climate, which in turn leads to significant desertification issues.
These farmers will often not be able to harvest enough crops to provide for their families since they simply often do not have sufficient water to tilt their fields.
Making things worse, due to global warming, the desertification issue will exacerbate since if the average temperature increases, the water shortages around the world will become even bigger and many farmers will lose their livelihood due to that.
In some countries, forced labor is still a big problem. In those countries, the local population often tries to escape those adverse working conditions by leaving their home and moving to other countries. Thus, forced labor can also be a significant reason for migration.
Insufficient medical care
Especially in poor developing countries, medical standards are often quite low and diseases cannot be treated properly. This leads to a high death rate from diseases and therefore also implies a low life expectancy for the local population.
In order to improve their health standards, many people are willing to leave their homes and to relocate to foreign countries since they believe that the overall medical care is much better in those countries.
Natural disasters can also play a big role in migration waves. Imagine your area gets hit by a tsunami and most of the local public infrastructure gets destroyed. There will be a lack of all things of basic life, including healthcare, food, water and so on.
Thus, many people will simply have no choice but to move to other areas since all their belongings as well as their homes have been destroyed and they will no longer be able to survive in their home country.
Wish for a better future
Many people, especially those who have children, urgently strive for a better future. Especially people living in poor developing countries know that the chances for their children for a better life are quite low if they stay in their home country since the educational infrastructure is simply quite bad and there often are high unemployment rates.
Therefore, these people often try to migrate to rich countries in order to provide their kids with better chances for a higher living standard.
Conflicts are a main reason for migration. People who are living in areas where there are many conflicts are often forced to leave their homes since their houses get destroyed or since they have to fear dying in those conflicts.
Consequently, people often decide to give up their livelihood in their home country and move abroad in order to escape conflicts and related consequences.
There are some areas on our planets which suffer from excessive levels of pollution. For instance, especially regions that are close to waste disposal facilities often suffer from enormous pollution of all sorts.
In those areas, people are often not able to make a living since the water is polluted and these people cannot make an income by fishing.
Due to a lack of other job opportunities, these people are often forced to leave their homes, which further contributes to the migration issue.
Another cause for migration is political instability. In some countries, there are still dictatorships or other quite dominant hierarchic political structures. However, the local population often does not accept those political regimes anymore and urgently wants a change.
Therefore, those people are often willing to leave their home and to migrate to other countries which are more liberal and promise a higher level of freedom.
Increase in illegal activities
The number of illegal actions is often connected to the level of poverty of a region. Thus, in poor developing countries, many illegal activities happen since people often suffer from high levels of unemployment and are not able to provide for their families with a legal job.
If the level of illegal actions becomes too big, many people may decide to leave their homes since they simply do no longer feel safe anymore and may search for security in other countries.
There are some countries in the world where discrimination of many sorts is still on a daily basis. For instance, women are often discriminated against and are not regarded as equally valuable as men.
This gender discrimination may lead to a migration of women to other countries since these women do not see a bright future for themselves in their home country due to this discriminative behavior of the local population.
Some poor areas also suffer from quite low housing quality. This means that these areas may lack a connection to electricity and water. Thus, this makes it quite hard for people to carry out basic tasks of daily life. Due to these poor conditions, people may decide to relocate to other countries since they simply do no longer want to live under these poor conditions.
High levels of poverty may also contribute to migration. Poor people simply have a bigger incentive to migrate to rich developed countries since they have better social security and better health insurance in those countries.
Moreover, those people may also think that they have better job opportunities abroad than in their home country, which gives them an even higher incentive for migration.
Extreme poverty can also lead to malnutrition and starvation. Starvation may force people to leave their home country since they may simply die if they stay there since these people may not have enough financial measures to buy basic food and water. Thus, starvation can further exacerbate the migration problem.
Some countries are also quite vulnerable to epidemics or pandemics. Due to insufficient health standards, many people in those regions die from those diseases.
In order to avoid the infection with serious diseases, people may try to migrate to other countries which have higher medical standards and are also not hit by epidemics on a regular basis.
Effects of Migration
- Better job opportunities
- Chance to escape extreme poverty
- Higher quality of life
- Better education opportunities for children
- Better social security
- Better medical conditions
- Higher population density in some regions
- Increase in unemployment rates
- Lack of work permits
- Adjustments to different cultures
- Communication problems
- Social isolation
- Drug use
- Economic effects
Better job opportunities
Migration can be an opportunity for people to find better jobs and to improve their quality of life compared to the job opportunities in their home country. Moreover, migrants may also be able to improve their education and may therefore further improve their lifestyle.
Chance to escape extreme poverty
Migrants also often try to escape extreme poverty in their home countries. This will often be successful since many Western countries provide good social security schemes which provide migrants with sufficient food and shelter.
Moreover, from there on, those migrants may be able to search for a job and to increase their income level to a point where they are do no longer have to rely on social security.
Higher quality of life
The overall quality of life may be much better in rich industrialized countries compared to poor developing countries. This includes basic social security, but also better climatic conditions and a higher safety level. People who migrate to foreign countries may therefore be able to increase their overall quality of life due to migration.
Better education opportunities for children
Since education levels are often much higher in developed countries compared to poor developing countries, children from migrants may be able to get much better education compared to the education levels in their countries of origin. Therefore, also their future income prospects and their chances for good jobs will be much higher.
Better social security
In many Western countries, social security schemes are quite sophisticated and provide enough financial support for people so that they can supply themselves with basic goods for their daily life.
However, people in poor developing countries often lack this basic social security scheme. Therefore, people who migrate to rich developed countries may benefit from much better social security and therefore their overall quality of life may increase significantly.
Better medical conditions
Medical standards are usually quite high in developed countries compared to those in poor countries all over the world. Therefore, migration also makes it possible for people to get out of low medical standards and into a sophisticated medical treatment environment.
Higher population density in some regions
Migration may also lead to a higher population density in some regions. In turn, this could lead to an increase in local unemployment rates and may therefore lead to an increase in frustration for the local population.
Moreover, higher population density is often connected to higher crime rates. Thus, migration may also negatively affect the attitude of the local population.
Increase in unemployment rates
The overall unemployment rates may also increase due to migration. Many migrants have a rather low level of education, which makes it quite unattractive to firms to employ them.
Therefore, these people will often not be able to find a job and may have to rely on social security. This may in turn lead to frustration for those migrants, since they have expected a better lifestyle and better opportunities.
Lack of work permits
In many countries, migrants will also have a hard time getting a work permit since they are regarded as illegal immigrants and have to leave the country sooner or later. Thus, this will make it almost impossible for them to find a job and therefore to integrate themselves into society.
Some migrants may also be traumatized due to past experiences and due to the migration process. Especially for children, leaving their home and all their friends behind can be quite dramatic and may lead to many mental issues. Thus, the migration process and all the stress that comes along with it may lead to serious traumatization for some migrants.
Adjustments to different cultures
It may also be quite hard for migrants to adjust to cultural values, especially if those cultural values significantly differ from the values in their home countries.
This may feel quite strange to many migrants and may go against their belief system, which may make it hard for them to integrate into society.
A high number of migrants may also have communication problems since they simply do not speak the language of the country they migrated to. This will make it quite hard for those people to find a job or to rent a flat since communication is crucial for all these things.
Moreover, communication problems may also lead to social isolation, since these migrants may not be able to make new friends due to the language barrier.
Social isolation due to migration is a quite common issue. Due to communication problems or also due to quite different cultural values, migrants may have a hard time connecting to society since they just don’t really feel to be at home. This may lead to a state where they only connect to other migrants, but become socially isolated from the rest of society.
The mix of a lack of work permits and social isolation may also lead to a significant level of poverty. Although there is a certain level of social security in rich developing countries and migrants may have it generally better compared to the living standards in their home countries, migrants may still suffer from poor overall conditions.
In the worst case, when migrants stay illegally in countries, they may also suffer from homelessness since they may no longer be able to get social security and may therefore not be able to find a flat to rent.
In addition, landlords may not be willing to rent their property to migrants who do not have permission to stay in the country, which further exacerbates the issue of homelessness for those migrants.
The lack of job opportunities in conjuncture with poverty or even homelessness may also lead to drug abuse for some migrants. These people may simply be quite disappointed with their overall situation since their dreams for a better future have not been realized.
Thus, they may take illegal substances to feel better in the short term. However, this may lead to serious addiction and adverse consequences in the long run.
There are also economic effects of migration. For countries that lose a high number of people due to migration, these countries also lose workforce which in turn often translates into financial losses. For the countries where people migrate to, the effect is not quite clear.
If migrants are skilled workers, there may be a positive effect on the local economy since these workers may be easily employable and companies and also the government will benefit due to higher tax revenues.
On the flip side, if migrants are unskilled, they will likely impose negative financial effects on the country they migrate to, since those countries have to provide them with social security and these migrants will often not be able to find a job.
Therefore, the overall effect if migration is economically beneficial for countries depends on the skill level of migrants.
Solutions for Migration
- Stop conflicts
- Increase average wealth levels in poor countries
- Improve education opportunities
- Improve social security and health insurance
- Fight extreme poverty
- Stop discrimination
- Fight global warming
- Reduce waste production
- Fight forced labor
- Increase overall living conditions for people in poor areas
In order to mitigate the migration issue, it is crucial to stop conflicts so that people are not forced to leave their homes. Governments all over the world have to work together and should also stop trade with countries which engage in conflicts.
By doing so, the financial pressure on those countries would increase and therefore, those countries would have a bigger incentive to refrain from conflicts.
Increase average wealth levels in poor countries
It is crucial that the average wealth levels in poor countries increase so that people have an incentive to stay in their home countries rather than to migrate to other countries.
It is crucial that rich developed countries provide financial support for poor countries and share their latest research findings so that poor countries can develop and increase their knowledge, which in turn will translate to higher wealth and higher living standards for the local population.
Improve education opportunities
Education is key to get out of poverty since it is directly connected to job opportunities. Low levels of education often imply high levels of unemployment and poverty. Therefore, it is crucial to increase education levels in poor countries so that people are able to find good jobs and therefore do not have an incentive to migrate to foreign countries.
Improve social security and health insurance
It is also crucial to improve social security standards and health insurance in poor developing countries. The local population in those countries has to be sure that they have enough government support in case they urgently need it. By introducing proper minimal financial aid, people would have a bigger incentive to stay in their home country and to avoid migration.
Fight extreme poverty
One of the eight Millennium Development Goals is to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty. It is extremely important that we eliminate extreme poverty for all people on our planet.
Apart from our moral obligation to do so, it is also crucial to stop migration waves since people are often forced to migrate to other countries simply due to the fact that they are no longer able to survive in their home countries due to extreme poverty.
We also have to fight discrimination of all kinds on a global scale. Everyone should have a fair chance in life, independent of where he or she is born, independent of the gender and the skin color and independent of any other things that could prevent this equality in chances. People all over the world have to become more tolerant towards minorities and have to accept their lifestyles.
An increase in tolerance would also imply a reduction in migration efforts, since minorities would feel more valuable in society and would not have a strong incentive to leave due to discrimination.
Fight global warming
Global warming also contributes to migration. Since large areas of land will no longer be suitable for farming purposes due to a lack of water in the future due to increased air temperature, it is crucial to stop global warming to save the livelihood of many farmers worldwide.
Reduce waste production
Our waste production is a big cause for pollution and also contributes to global warming since part of the waste is burned, which leads to the emission of harmful greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Thus, everyone of us can make an effort to reduce the migration problem in our daily life by avoiding waste whenever possible.
Fight forced labor
Since the escape from forced labor is a big reason for migration, governments around the world have to enforce the fight against forced labor so that people do not have to fear to become exploited and are therefore more willing to stay in their home country.
Increase overall living conditions for people in poor areas
It is also crucial that the overall living conditions in poor developing countries are increased. This includes better access to health insurance, better access to education, better social security schemes, better job opportunities and also a high level of safety for the local population. All these factors will reduce the incentive for migration.
Migration is a big global problem. Especially people who live in poor developing countries or people suffering from wars and conflicts will have big incentives to migrate to rich developing countries since they strive for a better future.
In order to reduce migration, it is therefore crucial to improve the living standard and to stop wars in poor countries so that people lose the incentive for migration. By doing so, we can ensure a better future for many people on a global scale.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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