Push-Pull Factors in Immigration

Push-pull factors are those conditions that drive people away from one place and draw people to a new location. A combination of push-pull factors helps determine migration or immigration of populations from one land to another.

Push factors are often negative and forceful. They may be in the form of demands that an individual or group of people leave a country, or at least giving them strong reasons to want to move. Pull factors are often the positive aspects of a different place that encourage people to immigrate in order to seek a better life. Both push and pull factors influence a population or person who is considering migrating to a new location.

Push Factors: Reasons to Leave

Push factors essentially force a population or person from one country to seek refuge in another country. Example of conditions that drive people to leave their homes include a sub-standard level of living, land or job scarcity, famine or drought, political or religious persecution, pollution, and natural disasters.

Push factors might be so severe that if the people do not choose to leave, they will suffer financially, emotionally, or physically. For example, in Ireland’s Great Potato Famine of the mid-19th century, thousands of Irish families were pushed to immigrate to the United States to avoid starvation.

Refugee populations are generally the most affected by push factors in a country or region. They are often faced with genocide-like conditions in their country of origin, usually because of authoritarian governments or populations opposed to religious or ethnic groups. For example, Jews were pushed out of Germany during the Nazi era to avoid the threat of violent death if they remained.

Pull Factors: Reasons to Migrate

Pull factors are those conditions that help a person or population determine whether relocating to a new place would provide a significant benefit. These factors attract populations to a new place that provides things that are not available to them in their country of origin.

Examples of pull factors are promises of religious or political freedom, availability of career opportunities or cheap land, and an abundance of food. In each of these cases, a population will have more opportunity to pursue a better life compared to its home country.

Sometimes push and pull factors work together, especially if the push factors are not severe. For example, a young adult who cannot find a lucrative job in their home region may consider migrating only if the opportunities are significantly better elsewhere.

Source: Push-Pull Factors in Immigration
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