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What are some of the key factors that influence migration? From natural events like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, to voluntary movement to find work in Brazil - learn more with our migration summary.


o In-migration: To move into another region or country to settle, usually part of a large-scale process

o Out-migration: To leave your own region or country to settle in another, usually part of a large-scale process

o Immigration: The process by which foreign nationals move into another country

o Emigration: The act of leaving your own region or country to settle in another

o Voluntary migration: A migration which you choose to embark on

o Forced Migration: A migration which is beyond your control, for example due to war or famine

o Push-Pull factors: The factors pushing people out of one place and into another.

o Urbanisation: The process of people moving into cities/urban areas from rural areas.

Brazil: a case study of voluntary migration

Brazil has seen mass out-migration from the north of the country into the large cities in the south. The push factors moving people out of the north include poverty, limited employment opportunities, infertile soils and high mortality rates. Therefore people, usually working age males, decide to move (often with the view that it will be only temporary) to the south- pulled in by better paid and more available jobs, more conformable housing, access to education and more reliable sources of food.

Of course, it is often not this simple. Rapid urbanisation has caused massive overcrowding in the main cities which has forced migrant workers to live in favelas or shanty towns which have sprung up in the areas surrounding these major cities. Favelas can be dangerous places and are often home to crime and drug use. When the migrants arrive in the cities they can find that the promise of economic prosperity is not as real as they imagined and as a result are unable to find well-paying work or the work they can find is seasonal, revolving around the tourist trade.

New Orleans: a case study of forced migration

In 2004 Hurricane Katrina raged against New Orleans, Louisiana, causing the displacement of around a million people, predominantly poorer, female, African-American residents. Many of those who left during the hurricane were unable to come back because their homes were destroyed and therefore were forced to move to other areas of the USA.

In the city’s efforts to clean up after the hurricane, 4500 low income housing were purposefully destroyed and there was a push towards privatising a lot of the city’s schooling, which in turn restricted the social class of people of who could return to the city.

Migrants in this sense are often referred to as ‘environmental refugees’.