There are four important factors that cause international migration flows: economic pressures, social networks and connections between migrant sending and receiving countries, immigration policies, and cultural perceptions people in developing countries have about immigration and immigrant receiving countries. Although all four of these factors are essential drivers of immigration, the most important factor is economic pressure and the second most important factor is immigration policies.
Economic pressure is an essential factor of international migration flow because is a known fact that most labor migration is economically motivated (Causes of Migration). There are two theories that motivate people’s need to move on this basis; the microeconomic rational choice theory, the new economic perspective theory, and the push-pull theory. The microeconomic rational choice theory rationalizes people’s choice to move by stating that people would prefer to migrate to areas where there is a better economy if they are from a place with a bad economy (Castles & Miller, 2003). While this seems intuitive, we can illustrate this concept with several examples; the current economic climate in Mexico is poor so many Mexicans travel to the United States in search of jobs that will better support their families both in America and abroad, the Puritans aboard the Mayflower lived poor lives in Europe due to religious differences and came to America to change this, and many Italians immigrated to Argentina between the years of 1880 and 1920 in search of a better life. As demonstrated, many people move to new countries as consequence of the microeconomic rational choice theory; therefore economic pressures are one of the major drivers of immigration.
The second most important factor to consider when studying immigration is immigration policies; immigration is often a direct consequence of the nation that people want to leave and those that people want to enter. Often, people who want to move to a new place are unable to because their country prohibits them. In addition, certain countries have guidelines that define which immigrants may stay on the country based on the legality of their entry. For example, Cuban’s have historically been unable to leave their country for a new life elsewhere due to government restrictions. Despite this, the United States has a rule stating that if Cuban citizens are able to reach the United States border without assistance from others, then the Cuban’s will have the right to live here and eventually become naturalized citizens. While this law is meant to increase international relations between the United States and Cuba, many Cuban’s still continue to try to enter the United States without following these rules; in these situations, many are sent back to their home country by the United States government. Therefore, the assertion that “migration is controlled/regulated by governments of receiving countries, which implement various immigration policies” is true, but we must also consider the immigration policies of the countries that people come from (Causes of Migration). Although citizens who leave Cuba are welcomed to the United States can become naturalized citizens, they are limited from returning to Cuba because according to Cuba’s laws, they will be persecuted.
In conclusion, economic pressure and immigration policies are the most important factors to consider when studying immigration. Economic pressures are the primary reasons that people are prompted to leave their homes in search of a new life, while immigration policies limit this want to move based on the government of both the home and receiving country.
Castles S, Miller MJ. (2003). The Age of Migration, Third Edition. New York: Guilford Press.
Causes of Migration. “n.d.”.Lecture Material. PowerPoint slides.