SOCI 121 – Population Problems
Describe the migration transition
Discuss causes of migration
Identify the typical characteristics of migrants
The Migration Transition
In the premodern world, rates of migration typically were fairly low, just as birth and death
rates were generally high. The demographic transition helped to unleash migration, and it is
now evident that a
has occurred virtually everywhere in concert with
the fertility and mortality transitions.
Davis’s theory of demographic change and response suggests that migration is an
adaptation that humans can make to adjust to pressure on local resources generated by
However, people generally do not move at random – they tend to go where
they believe opportunity exists.
Because the demographic transition occurred historically in the context of
economic development, which involves the centralization of economic
functions in cities, migrants have been drawn to cities, and the urban transition
is central to the migration transition.
The migration transition within countries is essentially the story of population growth in rural
areas leading to a redundancy of that population, so people look to cities for jobs and a
Initially the movement of people within a country is from rural to urban areas.
Eventually, the size of the rural population stabilizes at the relatively low fraction of
the total population that is required to grow food and harvest any other natural
resources required by the nation’s economy.
At such a stage, it may no longer be appropriate to speak of a migration
transition, but rather to refer to a
, which implies that the
population is largely urban-based, and people are moving between and within
We can expect that every country in the world will experience a migration transition
as part of an overall demographic transition, but some countries are apt to experience
a larger migration evolution that others.
In the United States, the migration transition is essentially complete, but
population movements are part and parcel of American life, and so the
country continues to evolve demographically as a consequence of emerging
patterns of migration.