source: wikipedia

Migration is often seen as a complex phenomenon. Many e.g, Everett Lee 1966, Todaro 1969, and Massey 1993) tried to theorise migration patterns, how people move, and why people move. In 1885 George Ernst Ravenstein, born in Frankfurt Germany, formulated laws of migration based on the observations he made in the UK and Europe.

  1. Most migrations are short distanced.
  2. There is a process of absorption, where a batch of people moving out from one area is replaced by another coming in.
  3. There is a process of dispersion, which is the inverse of absorption.
  4. Each migration flow produces a compensating counter-flow.
  5. Long-distance migrants usually go to one of the great centers of commerce and industry.
  6. Urban dwellers are less migratory than those from rural areas.
  7. Females are more migratory than males in their local area but males migrate longer distances more.

Other Additions:

  1. Economic factors influence migration
  2. Migration occurs in Steps, i.e there’s no one big leap from e.g village to capital city, rather there’s a gradual(step) movement; from village to town, then to the city and then to the metropolitan city and so on.
  3. The economically active group from 20 to 34 migrate more.

Applicability and Criticism of Ravenstein’s laws (Strength & Weaknesses)

Ravenstein’s laws still has some significance in the modern world.

For example, most migrations are for economical reasons, e.g job seeking and high wage rate.

Rural dwellers are still more migratory than urban settlers and economically active adults between the age of 20 and 35 migrate more.

Short distance migrations are are still common, e.g Mexico to USA, N. Africa to Europe, Middle East to Europe & Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Most people from less developed countries seeking employment in the West follow a step migration.

They don’t take a big leap to the west. Instead they settle in other moderately developed countries until they get to the more developed ones that have many opportunities and higher wages.

Expenses and migration policies in countries such as the US place barriers on migrants making them temporarily settle in other countries before moving into the more developed ones.

Asian migrates from The Philippians and Hong Kong follow a step migration to the West. Migrants from Central America like Panama, and Guatemala first settle in Mexico before they settle in the US.

In addition, step migration also occurs through refugees who are first put into refugee camps then given settlement permits to live in that country.

Step migrations also occur internally. Rural people looking for better living in the city may first live in nearby towns around the city as they cannot afford urban houses. They upgrade into higher suburbs when they start earning more.

His research was limited to data from the UK thus other underlying regional migration patterns fail to suit some of his laws

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