Why do people migrate?

People have moved from their home countries for centuries, for all sorts of reasons. Some are drawn to new places by ʻpull ʻ factors, others find it difficult to remain where they are and migrate because of ʻpushʼ factors. These have contributed to the recent inward movement of people to here but are also the reason why people from here have emigrated to other countries.

Over 80 million people in the world have Irish blood; 36.5 million US residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2007. Historically some were transported or sold into slavery or left because of poverty, hunger, persecution, discrimination, civil war, unemployment and, more recently, simply for education and better jobs. Worldwide numbers of migrants have risen rapidly in the last decade. The International Organization for Migration estimates that there were around 244 million international migrants in 2015.

Pull Factors

Migrants are drawn to countries such as the UK and Ireland for the following factors:

• Developed countries, or industrialised city areas within countries, draw labour from countries or regions where incomes are lower.

• International transport has never been easier and is cheaper than ever, relative to incomes.

• The telephone and internet make it easier to access information.

• Falling birth rates in developed countries contribute to labour shortages and skills gaps.

• Extra people are required when there is rapid economic expansion.

• People are drawn to stable democracies where human rights and religious freedoms are more likely to be respected.

• Many people in other parts of the world speak English or want to learn English.

• Young people move in order to get better jobs or improve their qualifications, including their language skills.

Push Factors

Negative factors at home add to the reasons why people feel compelled to move.

• Lack of prospects for career advancement

• Poverty and low incomes

• High unemployment rates

• Persecution and poor human rights

• Internal conflict and war

• Climate change, natural disasters and famine