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Learning Objectives

By completing the conceptual framework for this module, you will be able to:

  1. Recognize different types of migration at different geographical scales.
  2. Understand the spatial forms and flows of human migration in a globalized world.
  3. Comprehend the most important classic and contemporary theories which explain causes and effects of migration.
  4. Describe significant geographic variables used in the analysis of migration.
  5. Explain the assumptions and limitations of international migration data.
  6. Interpret the local context of migration issues in different places.
  7. Appreciate the complexity associated with the international and internal migration.





We live in a world shaped by human migration. Every day, people make a decision to leave their hometownor even their own countryand move elsewhere to work, study, retire, or reunite with their families. Migration has changed the demographic composition of towns, cities, and nations. Consider that in 1960 there were only 30 countries in the world that had at least a half million international migrants each. By 2005, the number of such countries doubled, bringing the total number of foreign-born residents globally to 191 million people. The majority (>64%, or 123 million people) of these international migrants moved from less-developed countries (PRB 2008). Millions of others, known as internal migrants, migrated from one place to another within a single country. See this interactive map of global migration as of 2005 and examine which countries are net "senders" of migrants and which are net "receivers". What patterns can you identify?


Although people migrate for many reasons, this module will focus primarily on one particular type of migration known as labor migration. In this Conceptual Framework, you will learn some of the concepts and theories that geographers use to examine patterns of labor migration at different geographical scales, preparing you to analyze how migration works and how different types of migration flows have changed over time.



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Suggested citation: Muñiz-Solari, O., Li, W., and Schleicher, Y. 2010. Migration conceptual framework: Why do people move to work in another place or country? In Solem, M., Klein, P., Muñiz-Solari, O., and Ray, W., eds., AAG Center for Global Geography Education. Available from http://globalgeography.aag.org.

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