Internal Migrations: Causes and Features

The Internal migrations Are the movements of the population related to political, social and economic changes.

These facts transform the states, which take account of the demography thanks to the population censuses.


These movements of population can be of the city-field type, field-city or city-city and field-field and its motives are linked to political factors of industrialization, warlike or economic conflicts. For example, the inhabitants of a city can move to a more developed one or with more job opportunities.

In places like Argentina since the middle of the 70's, the migration that used to be from the countryside to the big capital, was oriented to medium-sized cities, where the industry was developed. Among these cities were Buenos Aires, Rosario, Santa Fe, Sao Tome and Cordoba.

In general, internal migrations can be irregular or orderly. An example of orderly migration is the resettlement of citizens of a territory, which has been declared a national park or protected area.

In case of natural disasters, the state usually organizes the resettlement of citizens in new neighborhoods or in emergency housing until their houses are rebuilt and they can be re-inhabited.

Here is the main causes of the most common worldwide migration in history and today:

Causes of migrations

Economic factors and employment

The economic policy of a state may also require skilled migrants in a certain area. Economic migration is related to the phenomenon of"brain drain", ie the exit of the most prepared young people to other regions with better job prospects. This phenomenon causes as a consequence a lack of personnel prepared in some cities.

Historically, the most important migrations are related to the industrial revolution and with the attraction effect that higher level cities can attract. For example, the effects of this process during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are known as"rural exodus". In this sense, there are internal emigrants who move temporarily, coinciding with times of collection.

The American West Conquest is an example of inner migration motivated by economic reasons due to the Americans who migrated to the West motivated by the land they could colonize. Shortly after, a wave of quest fortunes or forty-niners migrated to these territories of present-day California, which became known as"Gold Rush."

Search for freedom

On the other hand, an important reason for internal migration may be the search for more freedom. For example, during the great black migration between 1910 and 1930 (Great Migration) in the United States more than 1.75 million African Americans migrated from the southern states to the Midwest, Northwest and West American. Blacks fled from racism and sought work in thriving industrial cities.

Another example of internal migration was the search for liberties carried out by the Jewish people within the Russian empire. Empress Catherine the Great in 1791 created the Jewish Settlement and Residence area, which was the only place where Jews could obstruct all their human and civil rights. This process is referred to as"forced internal migration".


Armed conflicts and civil wars also cause forced internal migration. For example, in Colombia, the internal conflict between the FARC and the government developed since 1960 has forced the forced migration of thousands of families whose physical integrity has been threatened.

The guerrillas seized entire populations by forcibly recruiting men and young women and raping women, which motivated these forced displacements.

However, in order for internal migrations to be considered free, it is necessary for citizens to be able to move without obstacles of any kind.

This right considered human by some and political by others was partially declared valid in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This text states that everyone has the right to travel and reside freely wherever they want, as long as he respects the rights of others.

Overpopulation of territories

In turn, overpopulation in a region can be a reason for migration. When a city experiences a population increase and job opportunities do not increase, demographic pressure can lead young people and professionals to emigrate to other cities. The return to his hometown when retiring is also a popular motive.


Among the consequences of internal migration is urbanization. For example, in Argentina, at the beginning of the 20th century, the capital became a million-dollar city with approximately 1.5 million inhabitants. The city spread, emerging new neighborhoods, where the working class usually lived.

However, a negative consequence may be the urbanization of the city. This happens at times of great urban growth, when the government does not exercise control over the new buildings built.

As a counterpoint, the population of the cities where the youth migrates is getting younger. In countries where freedom of movement is limited, citizens may have difficulty exercising their rights. For example, a person may be forced to return to his or her hometown to exercise the suffrage.


  1. Lattes, Alfredo E. Migrations in Argentina between the middle of the nineteenth century and 1960. Economic Development. Vol. XII No. 48. 1973.
  2. Gregory James N. Internal Migration: Twentieth Century and Beyond, Oxford Encyclopedia of American Social History New York, 2012.
  3. Villa, Martha Inés. Forced displacement in Colombia. Fear: a transverse axis of the exodus and the struggle for citizenship. In: Journal Controversy No.187. Page 11-45. Bogotá. CINEP.2006.

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