UPSC GS Study Notes


Migration – UPSC Geography Notes

  • 25 Sep,2023
  • Team ExamGuru


GS-I Human Geography Migration

Migration – UPSC Geography Notes

Migration, fertility, and mortality are the basic fundamental elements determining the population growth and demographic structure of a country.

The most striking feature of migration is that it can increase or decrease the population size and change its structure drastically at a given point in time. It also has a drastic impact on the fertility and mortality of a place. For example, when the male population migrates, the females are left alone which will bring down the fertility rates.

The Multilingual Demographic Dictionary in collaboration with the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) describes migration as a form of spatial mobility, involving a change in the usual place of residence and that implies a movement beyond an administrative boundary.



As per the UN, migration is a form of spatial mobility of population between one geographical unit and another involving a permanent or semi-permanent change in residence.

However, a certain type of movements are conventionally not qualified under migration like:

    • Commuting
    • Circulation (transferable jobs)
    • Transhumance (seasonal movements of up and down the valley by tribes in mountain areas like Gaddis (Sheep bearers) in Himanchal Pradesh and Bakkarwals (cattle bearers) in Jammu and Kashmir)

Refugees are also not considered as migrants. They are rather a population of concern, very vulnerable to human trafficking and labour abuse. They are not given the right to citizenship.

Migration is a very complex phenomenon. Apart from a set of social, economic, political, and environmental factors, migration of population in any region is determined, to large extent, by the perception and behavior of individuals concerned. Therefore, there is no comprehensive theory of migrationalthough attempts have been made, from time to time, to integrate migration into economic and social theory, spatial analysis, and behavioural theory.

Factors Responsible for Migration

  • Employment: The search for better employment in industries, trade, transportation, and services is the primary reason for intrastate, interstate (migration from rural to urban areas, and urban to urban areas) and external migration.
  • Seasonal Migration: People migrate for work in various areas and industries on a seasonal basis.
  • People from drought-prone areas, for example, migrate seasonally to work in brickmaking, construction, tile factories, and agricultural work.
  • The temporary and usually repetitive movement of a migrant worker between home and host areas, usually for the purpose of employment, is known as circular migration or repeat migration.
  • Education: People migrate to urban areas in the case of internal migration and to other countries in the case of international migration for better academic opportunities due to a lack of educational facilities in their home country.
  • By 2020, India will have the world's largest pool of young people; however, there is a lack of job opportunities in India, which leads to qualified people emigrating.
  • Lack of security: Political unrest and inter-ethnic strife are also factors that contribute to internal and external migration.
  • Forced displacement can also occur as a result of events such as wars and internal political unrest.
  • Marriage: Marriage is an important social factor for intra-state migration, and the majority of intra-state migrants migrate from one rural area to another due to marriage in the case of females.
  • Environmental and disaster-related factors: Some migrants are forced to relocate from rural to urban areas or from one country to another as a result of environmental disasters such as droughts, floods, and heat waves, which may have destroyed their homes and farms.

Types of Migration

  • Internal migration (moving within a state, country, or continent) and external migration (moving outside of a state, country, or continent) are two types of human migration (moving to a different state, country, or continent.

Internal Migration

  • Internal migration is the movement of people within a country from one defined area to another.
  • It is generally divided into the following:
    • Rural to Rural (47%)
    • Rural to Urban (32%)
    • Urban to Urban (15%)
    • Urban to Rural (6%)

External Migration

India's external migration can be divided into three categories:

  • Emigration: India's emigration to various parts of the world.
  • Immigration: People from various countries are immigrating to India.
  • Refugee Migration: Involuntary or forced migration to India in the form of refugees has also been a significant trend.


Impact of migration in India:

  1. Economic impact: Migrants contribute to the India’s gross domestic product (GDP). Their ambition and enthusiasm to improve their livelihood help in economic growth. Migration could affect the overall economy of the city through remittances.
  2. Social impact: The tendency to live within own group and community is responsible for establishment of enclaves within cities. While diversity is healthy for a city, it can also pose a risk to social cohesion, cultures and traditions, and to a certain extent to the safety and security of residents. It can lead to social tension associated with xenophobia and discrimination.
  3. Political impact: Transnationalism allow global connectedness. Transnational migrants have the capacity to transform cities into global centres through the impact they have on individuals, firms and other organizations via their worldwide connections. It also allow responsible government due to increased global awareness of rights. This help political maturity in the nation.
  4. Impact on urban infrastructure and services: Migrants move to cities, can put further pressure on the already stressed infrastructure. Migration affects the demands on urban infrastructure and services in both the place of origin and the place of destination. The rapid population growth results in difficulty to cope with insufficient infrastructure and the needs of all the people.
    • Education and employment: Soaring immigration directly affects the availability of places in primary schools, and lead to increase in class sizes and adding classrooms. Lack of such resources poses big issues for their governments, undermining efforts to keep class sizes down and to provide school places for all children.
    • Healthcare: The presence of infectious diseases in migrants causes concern for cities. Migrants with pre-existing health conditions can strain cities’ healthcare systems. Further poor slum conditions lead to health issues and epidemic like dengue in urban areas.
    • Transportation: One of migrants’ primary concerns is how to avail themselves of public transportation services. In developing cities, where a significant portion of migrants lives in slums, streets are not even wide enough to accommodate vehicles, including emergency vehicles.
    • Energy: Migration also affects energy consumption and CO2 emissions. It put stress on electricity and fuel demand.
    • Sanitation and waste: Migration can exacerbate the challenges of managing sewage in a city given the growth of the population, but the city cannot always meet the demand due to insufficient capacity.

Migration Pattern in World and India

  • Over the last five decades, the estimated number of international migrants has increased.
  • In 2020, there were an estimated 281 million people living in countries other than their birth countries, up 128 million from 1990 and more than three times the estimated number in 1970.
  • Around 87 and 86 million international migrants ended up living in Europe and Asia, respectively, accounting for 61 % of the global migrant stock.
  • These were followed by North America, which will account for nearly 59 million international migrants in 2020, or 21% of the global migrant stockAfrica, which will account for 9%Latin America and the Caribbean, which will account for 5%, and Oceania, which will account for 3%.

World Migration Report

  • The United Nations' International Organisation for Migration publishes the World Migration Report.
  • The International Organisation for Migration releases it every two years.
  • The eleventh report in the series was recently released.
  • According to the World Migration Report, 30.7 million people were forcibly displaced in 145 countries.



Issues Related to Migration

Poor Implementation of Protections

  • Inter-state migrant workers are afforded certain protections under the ISMW Act.
  • According to a report released in December 2011 by the Standing Committee on Labour, worker registration under the ISMW Act is low, and the Act's protections are poorly implemented.

Lack of Portability of Benefits

  • Migrants who have registered to claim benefits in one location lose access when they move to another.
  • This is especially true when it comes to PDS entitlements.
  • The ration card required to access PDS benefits is issued by state governments and is not transferable between states.

Lack of Affordable Housing and Basic Amenities in Urban Areas

  • Migrants account for 47 per cent of the urban population.
  • Migrants in urban areas were identified as the largest population in need of housing in cities by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in 2015.
  • Low-income housing options, both for purchase and rental, are in short supply. As a result, slums and informal settlements spread.

Marginalised Groups

  • People who are economically well-off and widely accepted sociologically (for example, upper caste in India or white in Western countries) find it much easier to move and integrate into other societies.
  • People who are poor or belong to a marginalised group, on the other hand, find it difficult to enter many of these countries.
  • Even if they move, they may not be able to mix up.

Socio- and Psychological Issues

  • Migrants are frequently rejected by host countries, and they are treated as second-class citizens.
  • As a result, the level of interaction confidence is affected.
  • Migrating to a new country comes with a slew of challenges, ranging from cultural adaptation to language barriers to homesickness and loneliness.

Exclusion from Political Rights and Social Benefits

  • Migrant workers are denied many opportunities to exercise political rights, such as the right to vote.
  • Furthermore, the requirement to provide proof of address, ration cards, voter IDs, and Aadhaar cards, which is difficult for them to obtain due to the fluidity of their lives, prevents them from benefiting from welfare schemes and policies.

Creation of Slums

  • Uncontrolled migration to India's metropolitan areas has resulted in overcrowding.
  • Overcrowding leads to increase in population and reduced housing facilities and eventually lead to the creation of slums.
  • Slums are growing in industrialised states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi as a result of uncontrolled migration within the country.

Demographic Imbalances

  • The population of a country is redistributed as a result of migration.
  • One of the major factors contributing to city population growth is rural-urban migration.
  • Out Migration from rural areas based on age and skill has a negative impact on the rural demographic structure.
  • High outmigration from Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Eastern Maharashtra, on the other hand, has resulted in serious age and sex imbalances in these states.
  • In the recipient states, similar imbalances are introduced.

Psychological Issues

  • Migrants play an important role in social change.
  • People from various cultures mix as a result of migration.
  • It has a positive impact on the evolution of composite culture and the broadening of people's mental horizons by breaking through narrow considerations.
  • However, it has serious drawbacks, such as anonymity, which creates a social vacuum and a sense of despair among individuals.
  • People who are depressed for a long time may be more likely to engage in anti-social activities such as crime and drug abuse.

Environmental Issues

  • Overcrowding in urban areas as a result of rural-urban migration has put a strain on the existing social and physical infrastructure.
  • Aside from that, cities are grappling with serious issues such as groundwater depletion, air pollution, sewage disposal, and solid waste management as a result of over-exploitation of natural resources.

Government Initiatives for Migrants

  • Inter-State Migrant Workers Act: The Inter-State Migrant Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1979 was enacted to regulate the employment and conditions of migrant workers from other states.
  • It aims to address migrant workers' unfair working conditions, such as the need to find work through middlemen contractors or agents who promise a monthly wage settlement but fail to pay when the time comes.
  • Increasing opportunities for rural residents to earn a living: From time to time, the government has taken various initiatives to alleviate farmer distress and improve rural livelihood opportunities.
  • Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), and Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture are just a few examples (ARYA).
  • In rural areas, infrastructure development is a priority.
  • RURBAN Mission: To promote local economic development, improve basic services, and develop well-planned Rurban clusters (cluster villages).
  • One of the main goals is to bridge the economic, technological, and facility and service divides between rural and urban areas.
  • Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA) : This is a programme that provides urban amenities to rural areas.
  • It aims to address the issue of people migrating from rural to urban areas in search of work.
  • It aims to improve technology in villages, improve connectivity, and increase livelihood opportunities, among other things.
  • SMART VILLAGES: It is an initiative focused on holistic rural development that has been adopted by India's national, state, and local governments.
  • The Eco Needs Foundation created the "Smart Village" concept.
  • The Foundation is adopting villages as part of this project and working to ensure their long-term development by providing basic amenities such as sanitation, safe drinking water, an internal road, tree planting, and water conservation.

Significance of Migration

  • Labour Demand and Supply: Migration fills labour supply and demand gaps, efficiently allocating skilled, unskilled, and low-wage labour.
  • Skill Development: Migrants' knowledge and skills are enhanced as a result of their exposure to and interaction with the outside world.
  • Quality of Life: Migration increases employment opportunities and economic prosperity, which improves quality of life.
  • Migrants also send extra money and remittances back home, which has a positive impact on their home country.
  • Economic Remittances: Migrants' economic well-being protects households in their home countries from risks, increases consumer spending and investment in health, education, and asset formation.
  • Social Remittances: Migrants' social lives are improved by their exposure to new cultures, customs, and languages, which promotes brotherhood among people and promotes greater equality and tolerance.