Today, the migration phenomenon is perceived by Europeans as something relatively new and of unprecedented magnitude. However, it is not a reality. The proportion of migrants (from outside the European Union) to the total European population is only 5.1% in 2019 (Eurostat, 2021). "Movements of this magnitude are not new and are more limited than the great migrations to America in the 19th century, which involved 100 million people for a population four times smaller than today" (Avau, 2019).
The real novelty lies in the explosion of refugees and the development of South-South migrations that have gone from 1.5 million in 1960 to 10 million in 2012 (Avau, 2919). The majority of them are going to the South and not to the North.
An individual's decision to migrate can be motivated by a variety of factors:
- Economic factors: the gap between countries' living standards also acts as a magnet. This gap attracts migrants to countries with a higher standard of living or better job prospects;
- Governance and public services: Poor governance, corruption, and lack of quality education and health services;
- Demographic imbalances: For example, aging populations or declining fertility rates and increasing life expectancy in many high-income countries, which contribute to an imbalance in labor supply and demand between developed and developing regions;
- Conflicts: Conflicts can be ethnic and/or religious, but they can also be caused by economic inequalities or competition for natural resources.
It is important to distinguish between these two types of migration, although they are frequently, if not always, intertwined. Most migration flows are the result of a complex mix of social, political, economic, ethnic and religious factors that are inextricably linked. It can sometimes be difficult to see the difference between "voluntary" and "involuntary" or forced migration.
It is therefore possible to define two types of migration, knowing that they are often closely linked due to a mixture of social, economic, religious, political and ethnic factors:
- Migration by necessity: these are the "push" factors. This type of factor pushes the migrant to leave their country of origin. These factors include persecution, oppression, famine, natural disasters, poor development, poor economic prospects and unemployment. Unfortunately, this type of migration has seen some abuses: human trafficking, clandestine migration, smuggling...
- Migration by choice: These are "pull" factors. This type of factor attracts the migrant to the destination country and leaves him/her more "free" to make choices: higher standard of living, security.
Whether by choice or by necessity, immigration is an act that requires thought and rethinking. This choice implies consequences, sometimes irreversible, for the immigrant, his family and all the people he will meet along his journey.