Theories of Migration


How often have you thought about migration? Not very often, I know right

Migration is an integral part of our society. Migration determines where we will live for the rest of our lives. Yet, theories of migration are so easy to overlook. Well, hold on tight, because in this lesson we are going on a journey where we will explore the 'where from' (source/origin countries) and 'where to' (host/destination countries) of migration and the factors that drive this process.



You will be required to record notes on the concepts that you have been introduced to throughout this lesson. You are free to create your personal journal as you travel along this lesson. Guiding questions will be provided to help you compile your acquired knowledge in your journal entries.



Lee's PUSH and PULL theory of migration

Everett Lee proposed his PUSH and PULL theory of migration in 1966.

The slides below will introduce you to the basic concept of Lee's model of migration


Questions for your journal entry

What is your understanding of push and pull factors?

Can you list at least 3 more intervening obstacles that can hinder migration?

Can you make a replica of Lee's simple model of migration?


Characteristics of Lee's Theory

The following are the characteristics of migrants:

(1) Migration is selective.

(2) Migrants who respond primarily to plus factors at destination tend to be positively selective.

(3) Migrants who respond primarily to minus factors at origin tend to be negatively selective, or where they are overwhelming for the entire group, they may not be selective at all for migration.

(4) When all migrants are considered together selection for migration tends to be bimodel.

(5) The degree of positive selection increases with the difficulties of intervening obstacles.

(6) The characteristics of migrants tend to be intermediate between the characteristics of the population of the place of origin and those of place of destination.

(7) The higher propensity to migrate at certain stages of the life-cycle is important in the selection of migrants.

2. Volume of Migration:

The volume of migration is determined by the following factors

(1) The volume of migration within a territory changes with the degree of areas included in it.

(2) It varies with the diversity of the people.

(3) It is related to the difficulty of evercoming the intervening variables.

(4) It varies with fluctuations in the economy.

(5) It varies with the state of progress in a country or area.

(6) Unless severe checks are imposed, both the volume and rate of migration tend to increase with time.

3. Streams and Counter-streams of Migration:

The following factors determine streams and counter-streams of migration:

(1) Migration tends to take place largely within well-defined streams.

(2) For every major migration stream, a counter-stream also develops.

(3) The efficiency of the stream and the counter- stream tends to be low if the place of origin and the place of destination are similar.

(4) The efficiency of the stream will be high if the major factors in the development of a migration stream are minus factors at origin.

(5) The efficiency of the stream will also be high if the intervening obstacles are great.

(6) The efficiency of a migration stream changes with economic conditions of the country, being high during prosperity and low during depression.

Lee's Principles is that:

Migration is always selective and influenced by pull- push factors. Areas having plus factors are first selected for migration. It is generally the pull factors which lead to migration to urban areas rather than push factors, even though intervening obstacles do influence migration.


Additional lesson resource: Check out this VIDEO LINK :

Section B


Who founded this theory and when was it founded?

The first attempt to spell out the ‘laws of migration’ was made by E.G. Ravenstein as early as in 1885. Using the birthplace data, Ravenstein identified a set of generalizations, which he called as ‘laws of migration’ concerning inter-county migration in Britain in the nineteenth century. Most of these generalizations hold good even today.

Characteristics of Ravenstein's theory of migration

a) There is an inverse relation between distance and volume of migration. Majority of migrants moves to short distance only. Migrants going long distance generally go by preference to the large centres of commerce and industry.

(b) Migration proceeds step by step. The inhabitants of countryside flock into the nearby rapidly growing town. The gap created by this out-migration in the countryside is filled up by in-migration from still remoter countryside. The inhab­itants of the town then move to the nearby urban centre up in the hierarchy.

(c) Every migration current produces a counter-current.

(d) The native of the rural areas are more mobile than their counterpart in the urban areas, and the major direction of migration is from agricultural areas to the centres of industry and commerce.

(e) Females are more mobile than male in the country of birth, but male more frequently venture beyond.

(f) Migration is highly age selective where adults in the working age groups display a greater propensity to migrate.

(g) Volume of migration increases with the process of diversifi­cation of the economy, and improvement in transport facilities.

(h) Migration occurs mainly due to economic reasons.

Principles of Ravenstein's model that still that hold true

That migration tends to decline with increasing distance is almost i universal fact. Evidences also indicate that there are generally currents and counter-currents in the migration process (Woods, 1979:191). It has also been established that development and modernization promote internal migration. Several studies have proved that migration is highly age-selective


VIDEO link for additional help:

Questions for your journal entry

Do you agree that Ravenstein's theory of migration took place in the industrialization period?

Do you agree or disagree with this statement: Ravenstein's theory of migration is still applicable to today's society.

Tell why you either agreed or disagreed.



Create a summary table outlining at least 2 similarities and 2 differences between the two theories of migration that we just studied.

Each similarity is worth two points and each difference is worth two points.


Wow, that was quite the trip wasn't it.

We've learnt that two main theorys of migration are: Everett Lee's Theory of Migration and Ravenstein's Theory of Migration. We've also covered the characteristics and principles of each theory.


Davisha, S (2017). Top Three Theories of Migration.

Heath, S (2015, Oct 21). Lee's Model of Migration. [PowerPoint slides]. Slide Share

Poleski, M (2018, Oct 16). Migration: Lee's Model. -->.Youtube


Baker, A (2018, Feb 19). Ravenstein's law of Migration. -->.Youtube

Mitali, V (n.d.) Four General Theories of Migration-Explained!. Yourarticlelibrary,com,Theory%20of%20Mobility%3A%20S.A.%20...%20More%20items...%20