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Human migration facts for kids

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For the general concept of species moving around, see migration. For people moving data around see data migration.

Human migration is people moving from one place to another, to stay there. It often happens in large numbers. Migration can be within countries or between countries. Humans are known to have migrated extensively throughout history and prehistory.

Sometimes the movement is voluntary, but sometimes people are forced to move. They may suffer warfare, religious and political persecution, famine and other natural disasters. When people are forced to move, they are refugees. Many refugees are illegal immigrants and more than half are children and women. They may live in extreme poverty, lacking food, shelter, clothing, education and medical care.

Rural-urban migration or urbanization is the movement from country areas to towns and cities. There are many reasons why people leave the countryside. In some areas there is overpopulation, high birth rates, and starvation. Mechanization has caused a reduction in jobs available in the countryside. Farming is hard work with long hours and little pay. Many are subsistence farmers. In developing countries a lack of money means a lack of machinery. Natural disasters such as droughts, hurricanes, floods and volcanic eruptions destroy villages and crops. There is a lack of services like schools and hospitals in the countryside.

People move because they are looking for better paid jobs and expect to be housed more comfortably and to have a higher quality of life. They have a better chance of services such as schools, medical treatment and entertainment. People are often also attracted by the advantages of a cosmopolitan lifestyle such as shops, restaurants, theatres and nightlife.

Many new arrivals are unlikely to have much money, they will be unable to buy or rent a house, even if one was available. They will probably have to make a temporary shelter using cheap or wasted materials. Some give up and go home. A lot of migrant workers’ children must struggle for education.

In the new country they often are not integrated and are treated like an underclass. But they are needed even if the local population doesn’t like immigrants because they compete for the same jobs. More people means more traffic and more crime. But in fact they help to build up cities, provide cheap labour, invest money, buy products and services, pay tax and help companies compete.

See Proto-Indo-Europeans.

IE expansion
Scheme of Indo-European migrations from ca. 4000 to 1000 BC according to the Kurgan hypothesis. The purple area corresponds to the assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area which may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to ca. 2500 BC; the orange area to 1000 BC.

The movement of populations in modern times has continued under the form of both voluntary migration within one's region, country, or beyond, and involuntary migration (which includes slave trade, Trafficking in human beings and ethnic cleansing). The people who migrate are called migrants, or, more specifically, emigrants, immigrants or settlers, depending on historical setting, circumstance and perspective.

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