Effects of Migration

Over the past 50 years, migration has increased. Not only are people moving more, they are also going to new places for different opportunities. While some migrants move of their own free will, others are forced to leave due to internal conflicts or environmental disasters. Depending on the condition of how and why migration occurs, different effects may occur in recipient countries. Let's explore some of these effects to understand the complexity of migration.

Effects of Migration Effects of Migration

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Table of contents

    Effects of Migration and Settlement of Communities

    Migration is the movement of people from one place to another, whether within a country or across borders. When people shift places, they take their assets, valuables, and labor with them to a new place. But they may also bring in different cultures, social customs, or ways of doing things. There are positive and negative effects to this for both the places they leave and the new places they arrive to.

    However, there is a distinction between voluntary migration and forced migration. With voluntary migration, people leave of their own free will, usually choosing to move somewhere with more educational or economic opportunities. People may have the opportunity to prepare to move by saving up money, learning a new language, or studying the new culture they will be moving into.

    With forced migration, people fear for their lives and are usually under threat from political, social, or environmental forces. In this case, people may be moving abruptly with few resources at their disposal. Countries that receive refugees or asylum seekers usually have to provide things like housing, food, and transportation in the short term.

    The effect of migration usually depends on why someone is migrating.

    Political Effects of Migration

    Migration is controlled by governments through policies and laws. Immigration laws are rules set by a government on who is allowed in and for how long. These laws can fluctuate depending on the local political climate or world events, providing little to no guarantees for migrants.

    Effects of Migration Protest in DC against Trump's Immigration Ban in January 2017 Political Effects of Migration StudySmarterFig. 1 - A protest in DC against President Trump's "travel ban" in January 2017; the US has admitted fewer immigrants and refugees in the last few years due to this policy

    Immigration policy can influence who gets elected in some countries. People may believe immigration has positive or negative effects on their communities or on the economy. Some politicians or political parties use their immigration policy to gain votes or support for more open or more restrictive immigration laws.

    Immigration policy is a collection of laws and stances that political leaders or parties follow.

    Examples of the Political Effects of Migration

    Examples of the political effects of migration include Japan and Canada's immigration policies. There are major differences in their immigration policies due to history, politics, and social acceptance.

    Limited Immigration Policy in Japan

    Japan has a very limited migration policy. Due to its geographic distance from other countries and decades of self-imposed isolation, immigration and integration of immigrants are limited. As a result, there are very few highly-skilled immigrants that apply to voluntarily migrate. With low migration rates, immigrants have a limited political effect on Japan.

    Immigration policy in Japan may soon change, however, as the elderly population continues to grow and birth rates remain low. This will create issues for Japan, as there aren't enough people to take care of the elderly, as well as to work and pay taxes. Already, there is some debate about changing immigration laws to help with this transition.

    Expansive Immigration in Canada

    Canada has a highly flexible immigration policy, with one of the highest ratios of foreign-born people in all Western countries. This is due to historically open immigration policies, politicians, and voters. Most of the migration growth is in or around larger cities, with many migrants filling job market needs. Canada has been called the most welcoming country in the world for immigrants, with the majority applying coming from India, China, and the Philippines.

    Economic Effects of Migration

    There are both positive and negative effects of migration. For forced migrants such as asylum seekers and refugees, there can be some negative economic effects. Upfront costs on housing, education, and transportation must be provided by governments. If these costs are not planned for, they can put a strain on local economies, increase social tension, and lead to negative political effects.

    However, high, medium, and low-skilled workers are typically in demand in most of the countries to which they voluntarily migrate. Migrants can take up unfilled jobs while providing unique expertise and insight. Limiting immigration can create greater issues in the economy, as positions may remain empty and hurt businesses.

    Effects of Migration Economic Joe Biden visits embassy in Beijing Effects of Migration StudySmarterFig. 2 - President Biden visits an embassy in Beijing while people wait for their visas

    Migration is key in filling many jobs in different parts of the world. This is because local populations may not have provided the education or training for some jobs and an urgent need is present. However, this can also negatively affect countries with high amounts of emigration.

    Emigration is the departure from one's home country.


    Remittances are a private transfer of money from a migrant worker to their family or community in their home country. The amount of remittances is growing globally, along with migration. The main sources of remittances come from workers living in the US, Russia, and Saudi Arabia while India, China, and Mexico are the top recipients of remittances globally. Although it makes up a small percentage of their GDP, some countries heavily rely on remittances to keep their economies running.

    Remittances primarily affect the home country of migrants.

    Brain Drain Problem

    Brain drain occurs when countries lose high-skilled, quality workers to another country that offers better pay or higher quality of life for their labor. This can be a problem as the absence of highly-skilled workers in their home countries can leave jobs unfilled and reduce their advantages in some markets.

    Countries experiencing high emigration rates of high-skilled workers would need to investigate the causes. There are several possible reasons which can range from low wages, poor benefits, or unfavorable working conditions. This may lead to major changes in some economic sectors of countries, as they need to adjust incentives to keep workers.

    Social Effects of Migration

    Cultural differences between original residents and migrants can bring up issues for local communities and governments. Integration, the process of uniting people from different countries, is a difficult task for governments and communities alike. Immigrants must learn new rules, customs, and possibly language to be able to communicate and make bonds in their new countries or places of origin. Unfortunately, sometimes these differences are so great that they can lead to conflict and protests.

    Effects of Migration Diversity in the workplace Social effects of Migration StudySmarterFig. 3 - Diversity in the workplace. Migrants bring in new ideas and perspectives

    There are also positive effects of migration on society. The introduction of a new culture can also bring in new ideas, methods, and perspectives. This can enrich the living experience for everyone and provide insight into another person's culture. For instance, almost all high schools and universities in the US have some form of student exchange program. This is due to values placed on new and different perspectives.

    There have been active steps to attempt to measure the level of social integration of immigrants in society. The Migration Data Portal (developed by International Organization for Migration’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre) provides measures and data to keep track of worldwide migration.

    The Portal attempts to measure integration by creating surveys for the labor market and living conditions of immigrants in a country. This can include education and skills, cultural and social inclusion, and civic inclusion. This is a relatively new tool in research and seeks to provide more data on the migration experience.

    Effects of Migration on Globalization

    Migration is one of the key drivers of globalization. There is evidence of new complexities in the amount, type, and origins of immigrants around the world. Technology and communication advancements have made it easier and more possible for people to move. In Czaika and Haas' article on the Globalization of Migration, they have found that costs are lower for both travel and communication, and migrant networks can remain intact despite distance.3 Combined with increased education and awareness of opportunities, people's desire to migrate has also increased.

    Although people are physically migrating, so are ideas, knowledge, and networks. This fuels globalization, interconnecting countries further at a social and cultural level as well. With higher rates of migration than ever before, globalized growth will continue at the same rate.

    Effects of Migration - Key takeaways

    • Voluntary and forced migration have different effects on political, economic, and social issues.
    • Immigration laws are the main way migration affects politics.
    • Migrants send back remittances which can make up a huge part of their home country's economy. Emigration of high-skilled labor can have a negative impact in the form of brain drain.
    • Integration is the process of uniting people from different countries into the new place they live. The ability to integrate can determine how much migration affects social aspects of society.
    • Globalization has fueled migration and vice versa.


    1. Fig. 1 Protest in DC against Trump's Immigration Ban (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:No_Immigration_Ban_(32641415612).jpg), by John (https://www.flickr.com/people/48704273@N00), licensed by CC-BY-SA-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)
    2. Fig. 3 Diversity in the workplace (https://pixabay.com/photos/team-work-building-office-4200837/), by Tumisu (https://cdn.pixabay.com/user/2020/01/12/12-31-35-440_96x96.png), licensed by Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/service/license/)
    3. Czaika, M., de Haas, H. "Globalization of Migration: Has the World Become More Migratory?" International Migration Review. May 20, 2014. DOI: 10.1111/imre.12095
    Frequently Asked Questions about Effects of Migration

    What are the social effects of migration?

    The social effects depend on the level of integration a migrant has in their new communities. 

    What are some of the economic effects of migration?

    Some economic effects of migration are that jobs are filled with high-skilled labor from abroad. Some of that high-skilled labor may send back remittances to their home country, which may be an important economic source for some countries. 

    How does migration affect globalization?

    Migration fuels globalization as countries interconnect at a social and cultural level. 

    What are the effects of migration on the home country?

    The effects of migration on the home country can be anything from remittances to the brain drain problem. 

    What are the positive effects of migration?

    The positive effects of migration are that migrants can fill jobs, bringing in new perspectives and ideas, and increasing diversity. 

    How does migration affect population?

    Migration can affect population by either increasing it in the new areas they arrive in or decreasing it by leaving areas. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    The effects of migration are the same regardless of why someone migrates.

    The effects of voluntary migration can differ because migrants...

    The effects of forced migration can vary because migrants...

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