One of the important spatial flows shaping the global economy today is the migration of people at local, regional, territorial, and continental scales. Migration today is a strong expression of spatial flows, which gives not only life and energy to the dynamic global economy, but also to changes in demography, societies, and cultures.
The attraction of more economically developed places for migrants has always provided the incentives for some people to move. When people move to new places looking for a job or better economic conditions, they are considered to be labor migrants. Throughout history, labor migration has been an important type of flow, but it has acquired greater importance today because of the new dynamism of the global economy. Countries, transnational corporations, and international organizations have shaped a complex web of attractions that people follow. However, there are also regions and places from which people emigrate through multiple processes. Sometimes people migrate because of a lack of employment opportunities locally, a low quality of life or poor environmental conditions, or if they fear for their own personal security. Social and political convulsions, perhaps with cultural or religious overtones, are other factors that can cause people to move from one place to another place.
A globalizing world brings greater interaction among countries, regions, and institutions. Increasing and intensified labor migration is an important component of the globalization process, as some people migrate from city to city or emigrate from their home country to work in another country. However, labor migration also plants a seed for increasing inequalities between places and countries. The old expression of spatial movement of people has been transformed into new forms of migration flows, which bring opportunities and advantages but also risks and disadvantages. In the next section, we will examine some geographic theories explaining why people migrate for work and the effects of these migrant flows on individuals, places, and economies.
Activity 1: Conduct a brief survey of family, friends, or others who have come (recently or long ago) from distant places to live in your country.
Ask them why they chose to immigrate to your country. Classify the responses fit into one of these categories:
1. Looking for new or better job opportunities
2. Looking for a more secure and better environment
3. Forced to move out from their original place
4. Other reasons (please specify)
Combine your answers as a full class and tally the responses given by category.
Discuss how many of the responses should be classified as "labor migration."