Migration, forms and Characteristics

In a layman’s language, the word ‘migration’ refers to the movements of the people from one place to another. According to Demographic Dictionary, “migration is a form of geographical mobility or spatial mobility between one geographical unit and another, generally involving a change in residence from the place of origin or place of departure to the place of destination or place of arrival.” Such migration is called permanent migration and should be distinguished from other forms of movement, which do not involve a permanent change of residence. Everett Lee, a well-known demographer, defines migration broadly “as a permanent or semi-permanent change of residence”. No restriction is placed upon the distance of the move or upon the voluntary and involuntary nature of the act. Migration, according to Eisenstadt, refers to “the physical transition of an individual or a group from one society to another. This transition usually involves abandoning one social setting and entering another and different one.” Mangalam also stresses the permanent shifting of people in his definition and considers migration as a relatively permanent moving away of a collectivity, called the migrants, from one geographical location to another.

It is preceded by decision-making on the part of the migrants. They weigh and consider sets of values in two comparative situations, resulting in changes in the interactional system of the migrants. Holiday trips or sailor’s occupations are not included in it. Mehta, in his study of Rajasthan, treats migration as an act of movement or spatial mobility.
A perusal of all these definitions indicates that almost all scholars emphasize time and space, and define migration as a movement from one place to another, permanently or semi-permanently. In brief, when a person leaves his native place or village, comes to an urban area, takes up a job, and starts living there, he is known as a migrant and his move is referred to as migration.

People may move within a country between different states or between different districts of the same state or they may move between different countries. Therefore, different terms are used for internal and external migration. Internal migration refers to migration from one place to another with a country, while external migration or international migration refers to migration from one country to another.
    • Immigration and Emigration: ‘Immigration’ refers to migration into a country from another country and ‘emigration’ refers to migration out of the country. These terms are used only in connection with international migration. For example, migrants leaving India to settle down in the United States or Canada are immigrants to the United States or Canada and emigrants from India.
    •  Inmigration and Outmigration: These are used only in connection with internal migration. ‘Inmigration’ refers to migration into a particular area while ‘outmigration’ refers to movements out of a particular area. Thus, migrants who come from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh to Punjab are considered to be immigrants for Punjab and outmigrants for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The term ‘inmigration’ is used with reference to the area of destination of the migrants and the term ‘outmigration’ is used with reference to the area of origin or place of departure of the migrant.
    • Forms of Internal Migration in India : Information on migration for India, as a whole, and its different parts is obtained through the use of the Census. Better and more detailed questions have been asked in recent census counts. They show improvements in the studies on migration.
    In India, the migrants are classified into four migration streams, namely, rural to rural, rural to urban, urban to urban and urban to rural. Rural to rural migration has formed the dominant migration stream since 1961. There have been substantial increases in the proportion of rural to urban, and urban to urban migration with the passage of time. Another important point is that the proportion of the females is much higher in rural to rural migration, while in the other three streams the proportion of the males is comparatively much higher. This is simply because the females change their residence on getting married, and new places could be in the neighbouring districts.
    Researchers have, from time to time, suggested various types of migration while taking into account space, time, volume and direction. On the basis of space, there are four important streams of internal migration. These are-
    1. Rural to rural 
    2. Rural to urban
    3. Urban to urban 
    4. Urban to rural
    Indian census gives this fourfold typology. However, in some developed and highly urbanized countries, there have also been migrations from cities to the suburbs.

    There are some important characteristics of migrants and migration. An important characteristic is the age selectivity of the migrants. Generally, young people are more mobile. Most migration studies, especially in developing countries, have found that rural-urban migrants are predominantly young adults and relatively better educated than those who remain at the place of origin. It is obvious that migration for employment takes place mostly at the young adult ages. Also, a major part of the female migration consequential to marriage occurs at the young adult ages. Thus people have a tendency to move when they are between their teens and their mid-thirties (15-35 years) than at other ages. 
    Another important characteristic is that the migrants have a tendency to move to those places where they have contracts and where the previous migrants serve as links for the new migrants, and this chain is thus formed in the process and is usually called chain migration. Various studies show that people do not blindly go to a new place. They usually have kinship chains and networks of relatives and friends who help them in different ways. In some cases, the migrants not only tend to have the same destination but also tend to have the same occupation. For example, research reveals that in certain hotels in Jaipur almost all the workers belong to one particular sub-region of Kumaon. The agricultural laborers in Punjab and Haryana are mainly from Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. 


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