Ravenstein's Laws on Migration


Migration of population from one region to another is largely determined by the behavior of individuals in addition to the major economic, political and environmental factors. The Ravenstein model is one of the prominent models involved in the macroanalysis of migration.

Historical background

E.G. Ravenstein, the English geographer, is considered the earliest migration theorist, and his work laid the foundation for subsequent research on migration. During the late 19th century, he made the first attempt to draw out the "Laws of Migration" using the Census data (1885-1889) from England and Wales. He deduced that population migration occurs as a result of the effects of push and pull factors.

Ravenstein's laws of migration

According to Ravenstein, the process of migration in and out of an area, is a continuous phenomenon that results in a more balanced redistribution of the population. Based on the factors of migration, Ravenstein identified a set of generalizations, which are listed as follows.

Most migrants travel short distances

The vast majority of people migrate only short distances. The distance of movement is inversely proportional to the volume of migration. This is due to the distance decay effect observed among 75% of the UK population. For instance, migrants would move from Latin America to the south of the USA and not to Alaska.

Long-range Migrants prefer to move to urban areas or big cities

When people find sufficient reasons, like large centers of commerce and industry, they prefer to travel long distances.

Ravenstein invoked the concept of "step migration."

He opined that migration happens step by step. The vacant space created by out-migration from a village is filled in by in-migration from even remote areas. The natives of the village then migrate to the nearby urban town, moving up in the hierarchy.

Each and every migration produces a countermovement

Ravenstein studied the movement of emigrants and their replacement by immigrants, not necessarily in equal volume. He called them "counter-currents".

Rural natives move more when compared to urban natives.

In search of advanced technologies and more available opportunities, rural dwellers travel towards urban cities. Migrated is more directed towards commerce and industrial areas from the agricultural arena.

Females migrate at a higher rate than males within the native country; males migrate more internationally.

Ravenstein observed that during the 1800s in the UK, when women got married, they tended to migrate to their husband's place of residence. Men, on the other hand, are more likely than women to migrate abroad in search of employment and career opportunities.

Adults are the most common migrants

According to the census data of Britain, in the late 1800s, youngsters were majorly migrated who were around their 20s. Only few families were recorded overseas migration.

The volume of migration increases with increasing economic development

With the improving economy and more jobs, a large volume of migration tends to take place in those areas. New transport facilities like trains and ships make the migration to urban areas more desirable.

Due to the effect of immigration, urban areas grow faster; this is not a natural increase

The added population in the cities due to migration makes them grow faster, and it is not because more people are being born. The urban centers in the world tend to grow faster from immigration than from natural increase.

The majority of population migration occurs from rural to urban areas.

People migrate for economic reasons.

Criticism

The following are the two main reasons why Ravenstein’s theory offers little practical guidance for policy and decision-making in the contemporary world.

  • Ravenstein's "laws" is a misleading term since it is not natural law. He can be termed as principles, patterns, processes.

  • His theory is more biased toward economic reasons and fails to consider socio-political and cultural factors.

Conclusion

Ravenstein's theory on migration lays a profound foundation for studying migration in the domains of geography and demography. His derived 11 laws of migration describe the principles of the inward and outward movements of migrants.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Ravenstein law of migration exactly define?

Ravenstein studied migration patterns in Britain during the late nineteenth century and developed 11 migration laws, which attempt to reason out the factors of migration.

What are the 11 laws derived by Ravenstein in his migration model?

11 laws are −

  • Most migrants travel short distances.

  • Long-range Migrants prefer to move to urban areas or big cities.

  • Ravenstein invoked the concept of "step migration."

  • Each and every migration produces a countermovement.

  • Rural natives move more when compared to urban natives.

  • Females migrate at a higher rate than males within the native country; males migrate more internationally.

  • Adults are the most common migrants.

  • The volume of migration increases with increasing economic development.

  • Due to the effect of immigration, the urban areas grow faster; this is not a natural increase.

  • The majority of population migration occurs from rural to urban areas.

  • People migrate for economic reasons.

Updated on: 09-Nov-2023

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