Define and Explain in Theoretical terms, Why Migration Occurs?

Traveling to another (foreign) country with the intent to reside their on a permanent basis is called international migration or immigration. Research literature puts forward several theories explaining various aspects of immigration and why does it occur. The purpose of this passage is to explain in the light of several theories about various reasons of why immigration occurs. There are several theories explaining various reasons behind international migration. Some of the reasons behind the international migration as explained by different theories are explained below:

Wage Differences

According to Neoclassical Theory of international migration, the main reason behind the labor migrations between two regions is the differences in wages in the two regions. Wage differences in turn depend upon the demand and supply gaps between two regions (Jennissen, 2007:413). Hence it means that when a country or region has shortage of labor in a particular sector, while huge capital is available, the demand for labor and hence the wages go up. Contrastingly, if a region is rich in human resources in a particular labor sector while having low capital, the wages are lowered. This difference in wages in the two regions, attract the labor towards the higher wages region and hence immigration occurs in the higher wages direction.

Pull Factor

According to the Dual Labor Theory of migration, migration occurs due to the pull factors. According to the theory, pull factor is the higher demand of low skilled labor in labor intensive markets of modern industrial receiving countries (Jennissen, 2007:413). The secondary markets of modern industrial countries require intensive labor. Any growth in the secondary market increases the demand for more low skilled labor which works as a pull factor for labor in countries which lag in industrial competition. Thus, this pull factor causes migration of labor to the receiving country.

Social Entities

The New Economics of Labor Migration theory as explained by Stark and Bloom (as cited by Jennissen, 2007:414) argues that wider social entities are involved in the determination of labor migration from sending to the receiving countries. They explain one such entity as to be household. For example, in case of lower household income, family member migrates to another country to avoid the risks of poor living for the household. This migration helps the household to lose restrictions on their production and investments. Hence, it has a positive impact on the sending country’s households.

Economic Inequality

Relative Deprivation Theory of migration yet puts forward another aspect of the issue. Jennissen (2007) cited Stark and Taylor as mentioning economic inequality within a society to be a major reason for labor migration. The theory is called relative deprivation theory because due to economic inequality within the same society causes the poorer to feel deprived of the luxuries or facilities of life that rich ones are enjoying. Thus the poor in the society feel relatively deprived of such facilities and to mitigate this feeling of deprivation, they migrate to other regions to earn more and make an economically better living. 

Social Change

According to World Systems Theory, interaction between societies around the globe through trade and other means bring about social changes which is a stimulus for international migration. For example in case of international trade between two countries where one country is economically weak while the other one has a strong economy, the weaker economy country becomes economically stagnant and hence, people tend to move towards the stronger economy in the world. Thus international trade and the resulting economic stagnancy act as an incentive for the people to migrate towards rich economies (Jennissen, 2007:414).


Jennissen, Roel. 2007. “Causality Chains In the International Migration Systems Approach.” Popul Res Policy Rev Population Research and Policy Review 26(4):411–36. Retrieved May 10, 2016 (