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Reasons For Immigration

Researchers from diverse disciplines focus on slightly different but interrelated reasons for the decision to immigrate. Economists identify push and pull factors, both of which emphasize employment opportunities. For example, if the economy in the other country compared to the home country offers better chances for job advancement, wages, and employment, the individual is pushed to emigrate. In a pull situation, a country is actively recruiting new workers for specific jobs, and the opportunities are sufficient to entice the person to immigrate (Suarez-Orozco and Suarez-Orozco 2001). Countries of origin may encourage people to leave for economic reasons. If some family members emigrate but others remain behind, the family and the country both benefit from the financial support sent back to family members (Rumbaut 1997).

Sociologists describe a chain migration process in which migration begets additional migration. The first person emigrating from the area sends information to those in the home country about jobs, housing, and schools in the new setting. Others immigrate and are assisted by those who preceded them. Eventually, within a geographic area in the new country, there are a number of immigrants from the same area in the home country.

Anthropologists focus on changes in the standard of living and cultural reasons for immigration. First-hand accounts from new immigrants as well as media accounts of the country's standard of living entice people to immigrate to the new country for a better way of life. Parents place their children's interests before their own; immigration is worthwhile because it betters the lives of their children even if the parents' situation is not as good as they anticipated (Suarez-Orozco and Suarez-Orozco 2001).

Psychologists suggest that personality factors are important in the desire to emigrate. Those who want to emigrate are more work-oriented, consider the family less central, are lower on affiliation motivation, and have higher achievement and power motivation. These personality factors are most salient for those who are not family-sponsored immigrants (Boneva and Frieze 2001).

Political scientists emphasize ethnopolitical reasons for emigration. Countries may encourage emigration to ease ethnic conflict, or to establish presence in another country, by resettling particular ethnic groups voluntarily or involuntarily. Whether one is allowed to emigrate may depend upon payment to or permission of authorities in the country of origin.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Theory & Types of FamiliesImmigration - Reasons For Immigration, Policy, Pathways To Immigration, Immigration's Effect On Families