(redirected from Economic migration)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal.


immigration, entrance of a person (an alien) into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important. High rates of immigration are frequently accompanied by militant, and sometimes violent, calls for immigration restriction or deportation by nationalist groups. See also naturalization.

Immigration in the United States

From 1820 to 1930, the United States received about 60% of the world's immigrants. Population expansion in developed areas of the world, improved methods of transportation, and U.S. desire to populate available space were all factors in this phenomenon. Through the 19th cent., the United States was in the midst of agricultural, then industrial, expansion. The desire for cheap, unskilled labor and the profits to be made importing immigrants fueled the movement. Immigrants were largely responsible for the rapid development of the country, and their high birthrates did much to swell the U.S. population. Often, however, immigrants formed distinct ethnic neighborhoods, tending to remain somewhat isolated from the wider culture. Frequently exploited, some immigrants were accused by organized labor of lowering wages and living standards, though other groups of immigrants rapidly became mainstays of the labor movement. Opposition was early manifested by such organizations as the Know-Nothing movement and in violent anti-Chinese riots on the West Coast.

Restrictions placed on immigration were often based on race or nationality. There were also restrictions against the entrance of diseased persons, paupers, and other undesirables, and laws were passed for the deportation of aliens. The first permanent quota law was passed in 1924; it also provided for a national origins plan to be put into effect in 1929. In 1952, the Immigration and Nationality Act (the McCarran-Walter Act) was passed; while abolishing race as an overall barrier to immigration, it kept particular forms of national bias. The act was amended in 1965, abolishing the national origins quota. Despite overall limits, immigration to the United States has burgeoned since 1965, and the 1980s saw the highest level of new immigrants since the first decade of the 20th cent.

Based on arrests of illegal immigrants and other methods of estimating, illegal immigration also reached very high levels in the 1980s, and continued to be high into the mid-2000s, then declined in the 2010s. In 1986, Congress passed legislation that sought to limit the numbers of undocumented or illegal aliens living in America, imposing stiff fines on employers who hired them and giving legal status to a number of aliens who had already lived in the United States for some time. The Immigration Act of 1990 raised the total quota for immigrants and reorganized the preference system for entrance. The 1996 Illegal Immigration and Reform Responsibility Act led to massive deportations of illegal immigrants. Its provisions were later softened under political and legal attack, but a stricter approach to immigrants in general was adopted by the government following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

A number of states have also enacted legislation designed to combat illegal immigration. The state laws appear not to have led to any significant convictions, but in some cases they have increased tensions with the local Hispanic minority and led to a migration of Hispanics, whether illegal immigrants or not, from the state. A 2012 Supreme Court decision concerning Arizona's law largely reserved to the federal government the right to enact and enforce immigration law while permitting state law enforcement officers to review a person's immigration status.

By the late 2010s the United States had highest proportion of foreign-born persons in its population since 1910, with Asia and Latin America ranking first and second as the regions from which the immigrants had come. Under the Trump administration the government adopted an increasingly restrictive immigration policy, seeking to limit who could immigrate or claim asylum or refugee status. By 2018, the policy had caused a sharp drop in immigrants to the country.

Immigration in Other Countries

Canada, in the first third of the 20th cent., began to receive an increasing number of immigrants, attracted by the expansion of agriculture in the west and the development of industry in the east. Australia and New Zealand received many European immigrants in the 19th cent.; the former country has been characterized by a preference for immigrants of British stock and by a policy of excluding Africans and Asians that dated from the late 19th cent. After 1965, however, this policy began to change; by the 1970s Australia had abandoned the system of racial preferences, and Asian immigration rapidly increased. Two major trends in immigration emerged after World War II: Australia and New Zealand became the countries with the highest rates of increase, and large numbers of Europeans immigrated to Africa. In recent decades, immigration to Europe from Asia and Africa has also substantially increased, as has emigration from Eastern Europe to the newly reunified Germany.


See studies by M. R. Davie (1983), I. Glazier and L. DeRosa (1986), V. N. Sinha (1987), D. R. Steiner (1987), and A. Richmond (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(embryology) one of the processes of gastrulation, in which certain cells migrate to the inside of the embryo and distribute themselves under its surface layer.



entry into a country for the purpose of permanent or temporary residence by citizens of other countries.

Immigration has economic causes (the importation of a labor force or the entry into countries with more favorable working conditions, a higher standard of living, etc.), military causes (the capture of foreign lands and their military colonization), and political causes (flight from political, national, racial, religious, and other types of persecution, the exchange of national minorities among states, etc.).

Immigration has played a very important role in settling certain parts of the world and in forming the population of many of the world’s countries. Immigration has a vital influence on population dynamics; its demographic consequences are conditioned not only by the number of immigrants but also by their sex and age structure—there is a noticeable predominance among immigrants of young and middle-aged people and of men. Immigration leads to a mixing of various ethnic groups in the population, as a result of which new nations and nationalities are formed.

Immigration is characteristic of all historical periods. An enormous influence on the formation of the population of Eurasia was brought about by the migrations that have taken place during the past 2,000 years, such as the Great Migration of peoples throughout Europe (fourth to seventh century) and the migrations connected with the Arab conquests (seventh and eighth centuries) and with the expansion of the Turks and Mongols (11th to 17th century). The era of the great geographical discoveries (from the mid-15th to the mid-17th century) laid the foundation for the extensive growth of intercontinental migrations, for the most part from Europe to other parts of the world, primarily to America and Australia.

During the 20th century the pace of migration has not slackened, although the migrations themselves have acquired a different aspect in a great number of instances, such as the enormous population shifts connected with the two world wars; the resettlement of more than 16 million persons brought about by the partition of British India into two independent states—India and Pakistan; and the migrations connected with the resettlement of Jews in Israel, as well as the flight and ousting of Arabs. At the same time there are still significant shifts of population for economic reasons. Since World War II (1939–45) the immigration of a labor force into the developed countries of Western Europe has taken place on a wide scale (the number of such immigrants has reached 8 million, including 3.4 million to France, 2 million to the Federal Republic of Germany, 1 million—that is, 16 percent of the country’s population—to Switzerland, and so forth). The countries that are supplying the immigrants are Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, and the countries of North Africa.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The one-way inward movement of individuals or their disseminules into a population or population area.
Gene flow from one population into another by interbreeding between members of the populations.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
As the data, the theories and the arguments put forward in this paper have shown that the issue of economic migration cannot be separated from a larger reflection on the contradictions of the global political economy of labor and the significant differences of economic development between states.
The push and pull factors of economic migration are well documented.
"That is partly economic migration. It's also about large numbers of people coming to settle in the UK.
John Hoeffner and Michele Pistone discuss business, labor, and economic migration from the perspective of "authentic development." They call for a reevaluation, in light of modern technology, of the Church's strong opposition to policies that encourage a "brain drain" to technically more advanced receiving countries.
In accordance with the "new theory of economic migration" (Stark, 1991; Bartletti, 2005) considering the social structure is regarded as the family strategy, and this is directed to wisely spending of profit sources, reducing the risks of house economy, creating better opportunities to mobilize financial resources.
It is not necessary to be a Maoist believer to understand the dislocation and trauma that economic migration causes.
"The ambition was to make a musical that worked and was a good night out so that people enjoyed themselves but, at the same time, because of the material which deals with issues like economic migration, privatisation of hospital sand the generation gap, there are points in the play that remind us that these are current issues that have happened before, 20 or 30 years ago.
Many Tajik women are left alone by their partners due to economic migration to Russia, with no financial support.
"This project represents our continued support and commitment to the federal government in their quest to secure a safe, rapid, economic migration path for their legacy databases and applications," said Arik Kilman, CEO of BluePhoenix.
The social effects of these changes cannot be ignored when planning the most effective use of police resources and law enforcement agencies in Cyprus, like other Western democracies, need to consider the way they police their diverse communities in the face of increasing economic migration, immigration and asylum applicants.
Although the story draws attention to the hardships wrought by economic migration, dreamlike imagery and unsettling use of music and sound combine to make this something more than a mere polemic.
Coventry City Council's strategic director of children, learning and young people, Colin Green, said: "The forecast couldn't forsee the growth in economic migration, the improvement in the economy, or the rise in the birthrate."

Full browser ?