What is Migration?

In layman’s language, the word ‘migration’ refers to the movements of people from one place to another.

According to the 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, for a considerable period of time.”

Migration, in the social sense, 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 a different one.

Why study Migration

  • Migration is the third component of population change, the other two being mortality and fertility. However, migration is different from the other two processes, namely, mortality and fertility in the sense that it is not a biological factor like the other two, which operate in a biological framework, though influenced by social, cultural and economic factors. Migration is influenced by the wishes of the persons involved. Usually, each migratory movement is deliberately made, though in exceptional cases this may not hold true. Thus migration is a response of human organisms to economic, social and demographic forces in the environment.
  • The study of migration occupies an important place in population studies, because, along with fertility and mortality, it determines the size and rate of population growth as well as its structure and characteristics. Migration also plays an important role in the distribution of the population of any country and determines the growth of the labour force in any area. Migration affects the socio-economic structure of the places i.e., place of origin and place of migration.

Various Forms of 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.

Picture migration

Internal migration refers to migration from one place to another within a country, while

external migration or international migration refers to migration from one country to another.

a) 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.

b) In Migration and Outmigration:

  • These are used only in connection with internal migration.
  • In migration’ refers to migration into a particular area while ‘out migration’ refers to movements out of a particular area.
  • The term ‘in migration’ 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 For example, migrants who come from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh to Punjab are considered to be immigrants for Punjab and out migrants for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

How is the Phenomenon of Migration Recorded?

There are three essential sources of information on migration in a country. These are

  • National census,
  • Population registers and
  • Sample surveys.
  • In India, the most important sources of data on internal migration are the national census and sample surveys.
  • Migration was recorded beginning from the first Census of India conducted in 1881.

In the Census the following questions are asked on migration :

  • Is the person born in this village or town? If no, then further information is taken on the rural/urban status of the place of birth, name of district and state and if outside India then the name of the country of birth.
  • Has the person come to this village or town from elsewhere? If yes, then further questions are asked about the status (rural/urban) of the previous place of residence, the name of the district and state and if outside India then the name of the country.

In addition, reasons for migration from the place of last residence and duration of residence in place of enumeration are also asked.

In the Census of India, migration is enumerated on two bases :

(i) Place of birth, if the place of birth is different from the place of enumeration (known as lifetime migrant);

(ii) Place of residence, if the place of last residence differs from the place of enumeration (known as migrant by place of last residence).

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