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"Emigrant" redirects here. For the band, see Emigrate (band). For the butterflies, see Catopsilia.
The Last of England by Ford Madox Brown, depicting emigrants leaving England

Emigration is the act of leaving one's country or region with the intent to settle permanently in another. It is the same as immigration but from the perspective of the country of origin. Human movement in general is termed migration. There are many reasons why people might choose to emigrate; these reasons can be divided into "pull" factors and "push" factors. Better economic opportunity is an example of a "pull" factor, as is a quest for a better climate. Fears of poverty or of religious or political discrimination are "push" factors. Seeking refuge from conditions not directly of one's making is interim to possible emigration.

Emigration has had a profound influence on the world in the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Some noted examples include the millions of people who left Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries or the recent emigration of Mexicans into the United States.

The term "emigrate" usually suggests voluntary movement. However, involuntary migration refers to groups that are forced by their enemies to leave through population transfer or ethnic cleansing.

Factors leading to emigration[edit]

Motives to migrate can be either incentives attracting people away, known as pull factors, or circumstances encouraging a person to leave, known as push factors, for example:

Blacks Law; EMIGRATION. The act of removing from one country or state to another. It is to be distinguished from "expatriation." The latter means the abandonment of one's country and renunciation of one's citizenship in it, while emigration denotes merely the removal of person and property to another country. The former is usually the consequence of the latter. Emigration is also used of the removal from one section to another of the same country.

Poster showing a cross-section of the Cunard Line's emigrant liner RMS Aquitania, launched in 1913.

Push factors[edit]

Pull factors[edit]

Emigration restrictions[edit]

East Germany erected the Berlin Wall to prevent emigration westward

Some countries restrict the ability of their citizens to emigrate to other countries. After 1668, the Qing Emperor banned Han Chinese migration to Manchuria. In 1681, the emperor ordered construction of the Willow Palisade, a barrier beyond which the Chinese were prohibited from encroaching on Manchu and Mongol lands.[1]

The Soviet Socialist Republics of the Soviet Union began such restrictions in 1918, with laws and borders tightening until even illegal emigration was nearly impossible by 1928.[2] To strengthen this, they set up internal passport controls and individual city Propiska ("place of residence") permits, along with internal freedom of movement restrictions often called the 101st kilometre, rules which greatly restricted mobility within even small areas.[3]

At the end of World War II in 1945, the Soviet Union occupied several Central European countries, together called the Eastern Bloc, with the majority of those living in the newly acquired areas aspiring to independence and wanted the Soviets to leave.[4] Before 1950, over 15 million people emigrated from the Soviet-occupied eastern European countries and immigrated into the west in the five years immediately following World War II.[5] By the early 1950s, the Soviet approach to controlling national movement was emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc.[6] Restrictions implemented in the Eastern Bloc stopped most East-West migration, with only 13.3 million migrations westward between 1950 and 1990.[7] However, hundreds of thousands of East Germans annually immigrated to West Germany through a "loophole" in the system that existed between East and West Berlin, where the four occupying World War II powers governed movement.[8] The emigration resulted in massive "brain drain" from East Germany to West Germany of younger educated professionals, such that nearly 20% of East Germany's population had migrated to West Germany by 1961.[9] In 1961, East Germany erected a barbed-wire barrier that would eventually be expanded through construction into the Berlin Wall, effectively closing the loophole.[10] In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, followed by German reunification and within two years the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

By the early 1950s, the Soviet approach to controlling international movement was also emulated by China, Mongolia, and North Korea.[6] North Korea still tightly restricts emigration, and maintains one of the strictest emigration bans in the world,[11] although some North Koreans still manage to illegally emigrate to China.[12] Other countries with tight emigration restrictions at one time or another included Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, Afghanistan, Burma, Democratic Kampuchea (Cambodia from 1975-1979), Laos, North Vietnam, Iraq, South Yemen and Cuba.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elliott, Mark C. "The Limits of Tartary: Manchuria in Imperial and National Geographies." Journal of Asian Studies 59, no. 3 (2000): 603-46.
  2. ^ Dowty 1989, p. 69
  3. ^ Dowty 1989, p. 70
  4. ^ Thackeray 2004, p. 188
  5. ^ Böcker 1998, p. 207
  6. ^ a b Dowty 1989, p. 114
  7. ^ Böcker 1998, p. 209
  8. ^ Harrison 2003, p. 99
  9. ^ Dowty 1989, p. 122
  10. ^ Pearson 1998, p. 75
  11. ^ Dowty 1989, p. 208
  12. ^ Kleinschmidt, Harald, Migration, Regional Integration and Human Security: The Formation and Maintenance of Transnational Spaces, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006,ISBN 0-7546-4646-7, page 110
  13. ^ Dowty 1989, p. 186


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