In this blog piece, I will try to cover the theories of migration and types of migration. As known migration has been a hotly debated issue especially right after the Syrian civil war since 2011. The refugee crisis has dominated the agenda of European countries.

The first steps taken to complete theoretical framework for understanding migration came after World War II.

The Migration Theories

-Neoclassical Theory of migration

The first migration theory is the neoclassical model. Neoclassical theory of migration analyzes migration movements from the economic perspective. It should be clarified that the neo-classical approach to migration is most of the time accused of being too simplistic and one sided by other researchers such as Saskia Sassen (1988)

New Economics theory of migration

The new economics theory of migration aims to challenge some of the principles of the neoclassical approach providing a new level of analysis (Stark 1991). The main argument of the new economics theory of migration is that migration decisions are not made by individuals who are isolated but typically by families or households.-

World Systems Theory of Migration

The critiques of the neo-classical theory paved the way for the birth of another school for migration. That model was developed in the 1970s called the ‘historical-structural approach’. Historical-structural approach is inspired by Marxist political economy theory.

The Network Theory of Migration

The network theory of migration is not interested in the determinants which motivate migration but rather it looks at what perpetuates migration in both time and space (Massey et al. 1993). Network theory of migration is closely affiliated to another approach known as migration systems theory.

Dual Labor Market Theory of Migration

Dual labor market theory connects migration to structural changes seen in the economic sphere but explains migration dynamics with the demand side (Massey et al, 1993). According to dual labor theory migration is stimulated by conditions of labor demand rather than supply (Arango, 2000).

Types of Migration

Many studies have different classifications related to migration. However, mainly migration can be divided under two principal categories. One is related with the direction of it: inside or outside and the other is related with the consent of the migrating people. So four types of migration exist in the literature, these are internal migration, external migration,voluntary migration and compulsory migration.

Internal and External Migration

As a type of migration, the internal migration can occur in almost every country. Within the framework of internal migration, there are migrations from rural areas to urban areas as well as urban to urban migration due to economic, social and cultural reasons. According to Marshall, internal migration can be defined as a population movement qualifying for the labor moving to regions composing the developing sides in the border of a nation-state. (1999: 314). Internal migration can also be defined as the movement inside a country from one of the regions to another for settlement.

On the other hand, external migration is defined as displacement or population mobility carried outside the borders of a country in order to work or stay in a place where they migrate on a permanent or part-time basis. Briefly, external migration is the migration of individuals or social groups living in one country to another country.

Voluntary and Compulsory Migration

Voluntary immigration can be seen as the type of migration that occurs when people leave their homes with their consent. The decisive factor in voluntary migration is the inner world (choice) of individuals.

On the other hand, there is a type of migration called “compulsory migration”. It is called compulsory immigration when people have to leave their places against their will.


My upcoming blog piece will be about some clarification covering the concepts of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.


Author :

Leave a Reply