Migration at Different Scales


To begin, let's introduce some terminology that will be useful for analyzing patterns of migration. Two concepts, emigration and immigration, are complementary processes that describe the movements of people over geographic space between two different countries or regions in any part of the world. It is important to remember that people emigrate from a particular country and immigrate to another country.  


Both emigration and immigration can refer to many different types of migrants. If you read books or visit websites related to migration you will probably find different methods of classifying migrants for economic and political reasons. For the purpose of this module, we will focus our discussion primarily on how these terms relate to labor migrations. It is useful to differentiate migrants on the basis of the (intended) length of their stay, as follows.


A. Long-term Migration. Examples of people in this category include:

1) Labor migrants (these can be either high-skilled or low-skilled workers who seek permanent employment elsewhere);
2) Professional, business or investor migrants (e.g., individuals in specific professions, or those who invest or establish businesses in a receiving country);
3) Forced migrants (e.g., political or religious refugees and asylum seekers).


B. Temporary Migration. Examples of people in this category include:

1) Labor migrants (e.g., seasonal migrants, laborers on temporary working visas, or commuter migrants);
2) Professional and business migrants (e.g., diplomats and other business migrants, religious migrants);
3) Student and scholar migrants (e.g., degree-seeking students, short-term students, and exchange scholars).


Note that this classification scheme can be related either to international or internal flows of migrants. In this module, we focus on two scales. When we refer to international flows (Scale 1), it means the movement of migrants from one country to another within a continent or to more distant countries. Internal flows refer to migration between areas or regions inside a single country (Scale 2).


Although refugees and other types of forced migrants have a different legal status compared to "normal" migrants, many of them eventually join the labor markets of the receiving countries. We therefore include them in our discussion of labor migration.



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