What is external migration?

We explain what external migration is and what its causes and consequences are. In addition, the types of migration and some examples.

What is external migration?

External migration or international migration is understood as the one that comes from countries or regions different (and often remote) from those of destination. That is, we talk about external migration to distinguish it from migration from sectors of the same country or the same region.

This is especially relevant if there is a border crossing between the regions of origin and destination.

This difference between external and internal migration allows the study and measurement of the migration flow to and from a specific region, thus building a migratory balance or migratory balance, which is the difference between emigration and immigration.

Those countries whose citizens usually migrate have negative migratory balances, while those that usually receive migrants have positive migratory balances. Note that these terms are mathematical and not appreciative (a positive balance does not necessarily mean something good or bad).

Throughout history, there have been huge external migrations, especially those motivated by large-scale war conflicts. When the capacity to receive the number of migrants exceeds a nation, there are usually refugee or displaced crises, when not humanitarian crises.

Causes of external migration

External migrationSometimes, poor living conditions in the country of origin cause external migration.

External migrations may be due to different factors, such as:

  • Wars, military, political or civil conflicts, as well as other reasons of force majeure that force them to leave the country of origin ( natural disasters ).
  • Bad living conditions in the country of origin and better in the country of destination, which causes economic migration.
  • Personal reasons that lead to pursuing foreigners, such as falling in love or individual life opportunities.

Consequences of external migration

Similarly, external migrations have different consequences, such as:

  • Growth of the workforce in the country of destination, as well as the demand for work, consumption, and the total population.
  • Enrichment of the cultural, social, and even genetic heritage in the destination community, thanks to the arrival of new individuals.
  • Growth of foreign investment, given that many migrants carry capital with them.
  • Contribution to the country of destination of new knowledge from the country of origin.

Types of Migration

External migration - internal migration
A country can both be a recipient of immigrants and a producer of emigrants.

Human migrations are usually understood according to their address: inside or outside a specific country. Thus, we can talk about emigration (when migrants leave) and immigration (when migrants arrive). A country can both be a recipient of immigrants and a producer of emigrants, but generally one of the two trends prevails.

Similarly, one can speak of temporary migration, for those cases in which the migrant individual spends an indefinite time in the country of destination and subsequently returns to the country of origin, and permanent migration, when such return to origin does not occur, and the migrant has incorporated the fixed population of the country of destination.

External Migration Examples

Throughout history, there have been many examples of external migration. During World War II, for example, the American continent received real waves of Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, and citizens of other European countries seeking new opportunities in conflict-free territories.

In recent times, however, citizens of African countries have sustained prolonged external migration to Europe, seeking better living conditions and fleeing in many cases from terrorist groups or Islamic radicalism.

The same has happened within the South American continent, where the citizens of Venezuela have massively emigrated to countries such as Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina, reaching in a few years the figure of almost 4 million migrants, due to the brutal impoverishment of the quality of social, economic and political life in that country.

Internal migration

Internal migration
In internal migration, migrants come from regions of the same country.

Unlike external migration, internal migration occurs within the borders of the same country or the same region, without changing nationalities in the process. This means that migrants come from other regions of the same country, for example, as happened with the rural exodus during the twentieth century, in which many residents of the rural regions of the West migrated to the main cities of their countries, aspiring to join to industrial living and working conditions.

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