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This report is a summary of the presentation given in tutorial class on 2 November 2009 (Appendix 4). The ‘Push Pull’ factors upon migrants have occurred throughout history in all nations. Recent events including World War 2, the establishment of the European Union (EU), economic boom in Dubai, and the growth industry of the ‘international student’ in Australia. Theorists, such as Klaus Zimmermann, Michael Vogler and Ralph Rotte have helped define the push and pull forces on migration, which in turn, allows governments to identify opportunities to better manage immigration policy.
Historical Population Flows – UK and Australia.
England is what it is today, due to several waves of immigrants. Romans in 43AD, who took three attempts before settling in the country, then 700 to 1100AD Norwegian, Danish and Swedish immigrants, arrived as a group called the Vikings. When King Edward died in 1066, William arrived from Normandy, killing his half-brother Harold (Battle of Hastings), and became King, also, William the Conqueror (Ouedraogo, 2009). During the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, as England and other countries were expanding their ‘colonies’ and building on world trade routes, Australia was re-discovered and settled by Arthur Phillip in 1788.
Australia’s gold rush in the 1850’s saw Chinese immigrants arrive in Australia. As the gold started to run racial tensions grew among the miners. The bombing of Darwin, Australia, by the Japanese in 1942, was the precursor for Australian politicians to increase the population by opening the doors to immigration; “Populate or Perish” (Time, 1952).
Current Events – Europe, Dubai (UAE), and Australia
There are migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, currently living in camps in Calais, France, awaiting an opportunity to enter the UK (Lescure, 2009). Reasons for their current position include the living and working opportunities in their home countries and what they can achieve in the UK. Immigration minister, Phil Woolas, is quoted as saying that the Calais people “must be illegal immigrants otherwise they would have claimed asylum in France or the first EU country they come to” (Travis, 2009).
Cross-border immigration is ‘not just a French problem, but a European and international one’. Cause for migration, as identified by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) include fleeing violence, persecution, economic and family reasons (Lescure, 2009). In addition, Zimmermann (1994, p. 321) identifies an EU treaty stating that ‘four freedoms’ be observed; the free movement of people, capital, goods and services.
Economic ‘boom’ conditions not only require financial capital but also human capital. Cheap workers from India and Pakistan have been allowed in to the United Arab Emirates (in particular Dubai – under strict conditions) to work as building labourers to help meet this region’s growth. Workers seek better pay then are possible at home and are willing to travel to seek employment. Despite the human factors (living conditions, wages and separation from family) associated for such migration, remittances back to the workers home country can be very valuable with Indians return US$27 billion (updated remittances table see World Bank 2008 – Appendix 1).
Current immigration policy in Australia is to ‘use’ international students as a means of increasing the population. With an estimated 70,000 Indian students, the economic benefit to the host community is valued at AUD$14.35 billion. This makes International students the third largest industry in Australia (Bryant, 2009).
Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, confirmed the importance of international students, in particular the Indian student, by saying that ‘our Indian community has been such a vital contributor to our culture, to our life, to our food, to our music’ (Bryant, 2009). Reasons behind the increasing student numbers include high quality education, affordability, internationally recognised degrees, higher job opportunities, and scenery (Maps of India.com, 2009).
“Push – Pull” Effects on Migration
One of the recognised pioneers in migration theory is that of Ernest George Ravenstein in his paper titled ‘Laws of Migration’ (Corbett, 2009). Although immigration ‘appeared to go on without any definite law’ (Op. Cit., p.1) Ravenstein attempted to explain and predict movement between and within nations. The issue of migration had become more important during the nineteenth century as industrialisation was growing (Ravenstein’s Laws – Appendix 2).
From Ravenstein’s theory, the ‘push pull’ concept was developed. Adverse conditions in their home or source country ‘push’ people out, and favourable conditions in the host country ‘pull’ people in (Jrank, n.d.). Factors that stimulate these conditions include political (skill requirement of nation, asylum seeking), economic (employment, living standards), and cultural (education, acceptance).
A more economic approach to immigration push-pull theory has been illustrated by Klaus Zimmermann (1994). He defines ‘internal factors affecting aggregate demand that cause migration’ to be ‘pull migration’ (Op. Cit., p. 314). Furthermore, internal and external factors that ‘affect the aggregate supply’ are considered push migration (Op. Cit., p. 315). Where ‘substitutability’ exists between foreign and domestic labour, there will be less pressure on wage inflation. Zimmermann describes migrants as ‘complements to native workers … leading to higher native productivity’ and that immigrants provide a positive ‘multiplier effect’ within the economy (Op. Cit., p. 327).
Research by Vogler and Rotte (2000) consider the large ‘income differentials’ between loess developed nations to industrialised nations, and why there has not been more migration. Despite the socio-economic factors driving push migration, there is overwhelming ‘migration impeding factors’ (Op. Cit., p. 487) that counteracts the demand pull factors. Vogel & Rotte conclude that there is an ‘inverse u-shaped relationship between development [of lower developed countries] and migration’ (Op. Cit., p. 507).
Impact of immigration
Demand for workers for low-skilled jobs has been met partly through migration (OECD, 2008a). This area of migration draws into consideration the effects on brain drain, remittances, as discussed above, and treatment of lesser skilled workers in the host country.
A migrant who returns to their home country will also take home acquired knowledge. This leaves the host country seeking to replace this knowledge. If these jobs are not filled by ‘natives’, further opportunity exists for migrants. Remittances greatly improve the welfare of associates in the home country. This spread of benefits allows greater transfer among more people than if immigration had not occurred (OECD 2008a, and Appendix 3).
In addition to the points based system (UK Border Agency, 2009), Migration Advisory Board (MAC) and the Migration Impacts Forum (MIF), are two UK Government departments that have been created to address the issue of satisfying skill level requirements and migration policies are the. MAC identifies labour market shortage areas where immigration might ease skill gaps. MIF assesses the wider, more qualitative, social implications of immigration (Byrne, 2007) (Appendix 3).
The impact on immigration during this economic crisis is likely to reverse the recent increase in labour migration. Previous years of growth and prosperity saw labour migration address labour shortages from the aging population issues and skill shortages. In the near future, unemployment rates are expected to reach double-digit levels and the argument is that government policy needs to be able to respond efficiently to labour market needs. ‘Migration is not a tap that be turned on and off at will’ (OECD, 2009). Governments are being asked to keep ‘their ports of entry open’ and not use this issue for ‘electoral ends’ (O’Neil, 2009).
Immigration fluctuations are related to political, economic and cultural factors that create a pull or push effect. With greater understanding of a nation’s own capabilities, migration patterns should be more predictable and more correlated to their own economies and regard immigrants as an important factor of production (OECD 2008b).
Globalisation affects everyone, and correct government policies will provide solutions to not only today’s conditions, but also tomorrows (OECD 2008b). Migration is not a tap to be turned on and off at will. The creation of MAC and MIF will go a long way to promote a freer and fairer movement of people throughout the world.
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Bryant, N. (2009), ‘Australia foreign student abuse proves expensive’, BBC news online, accessed 1 November 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/8242739.stm;
Byrne, L., (2007), ‘How the Migration Impacts Forum fits with Wider decision-making on immigration’, UK Border Agency, accessed online 11 December 2009, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/managingourborders/mif/papersandagendas/21june2007/decisionmaking.pdf?view=Binary;
Corbett, J. (2001), ‘Earnest George Ravenstein: The Laws of Migration, 1885’, CSISS, accessed online 1 November 2009, http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/90;
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JRank n.d., ‘Migration – Theories of Migration’, Marriage and Family Encyclopaedia, accessed online 1 November 2009, http://family.jrank.org/pages/1170/Migration-Theories-Migration.html;
Lescure, M (2009), ‘UNHCR returns to Calais to provide migrants, refugees with information’, accessed online from the UNHCR on 1 November 2009, http://www.unhcr.org/4a3914c86.html;
Maps of India.com (2009), ‘Higher Education in Australia for Indian Students’, accessed online 1 November 2009, http://business.mapsofindia.com/trade-relations/india-australia/higher-education-in-australia-for-indian-students.html;
OECD (2008a), ‘Temporary Labour Migration: An Illusory Promise?’, International Migration Outlook 2008, editorial, accessed online 1 November 2009, http://oecd.org/document/3/0,3343,en_2649_33931_41241219_1_1_1_37415,00.htm;
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Appendix 1 – Top Remittance-Receiving Countries
Top Remittance-Receiving Countries, 2006
Total remittances (US$ billions)
Total remittances (as % of GDP)
Bosnia & Herzegovina
West Bank & Gaza
Serbia &d Montenegro
Serbia & Montenegro
Source: World Bank – Migration and Remittances Factbook 2008 (March 2008)
Appendix 2 – Ernest George Ravenstein’s laws on migration
- Most migrants only proceed a short distance, and toward centres of absorption;
- As migrants move toward absorption centres, they leave, “gaps” that are filled up by migrants from more remote districts, creating migration flows that reach to “the most remote corner of the Kingdom.”;
- The process of dispersion is inverse to that of absorption;
- Each main current of migration produces a compensating counter-current;
- Migrants proceeding long distances generally go by preference to one of the great centres of commerce or industry;
- The natives of towns are less migratory than those of the rural arts of the country; and
- Females are more migratory than males.
Source: John Corbett, 2009, for CSISS (Centre for Spatially Integrated Social Science), online article.
Appendix 3 – Migrants Economic Contribution and Public Perception
- Migration has always been a source of labour and skills in the UK, and brings substantial benefits.” HMT;
- Immigrants also tend to be younger, better educated and work longer hours than those born in the United Kingdom.” Bank of England;
- If it was not for immigrant labour, especially in leisure, in tourism, in agriculture, in construction, then frankly many of our businesses would not have the workers we need.” Digby Jones; and
- Labour-market restrictions are imposing a much larger burden on the global economy than are trade restrictions.” World Bank, GEP 2006
- Reasons for low public confidence:
- Perceptions (rightly or wrongly) of pressure on jobs and services;
- Lack of clarity about legal and illegal migration;
- Hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers; and
- A view that there are “too many immigrants”.
Source: UK Border Agency
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