Theories of Migration: Ravenstein’s Laws

The first attempt to spell out the ‘laws of migration’ was made by E.G. Ravenstein as early as in 1885. Using the birthplace data, Ravenstein identified a set of generalizations, which he called as ‘laws of migration’ concerning inter-county migration in Britain in the nineteenth century. Most of these generalizations hold good even today.

According to him there are three basic factors of migration

Reasons(Motives)- There should be  a reason to migrate

Distance– How far a migrant is ready to go.

Migrant Characteristics– Gender of Migrant is one of the characteristics. Culture is also one of the important factors.


These generalizations can be listed as follows (Grigg, 1977:42; Johnston et al, 1981:218):

(a) There is an inverse relation between distance and volume of migration. Majority of migrants moves to short distance only. Migrants going long distance generally go by preference to the large centres of commerce and industry.

(b) Migration proceeds step by step. The inhabitants of countryside flock into the nearby rapidly growing town. The gap created by this out-migration in the countryside is filled up by in-migration from still remoter countryside. The inhab­itants of the town then move to the nearby urban centre up in the hierarchy.

(c) Every migration current produces a counter-current.

(d) The native of the rural areas are more mobile than their counterpart in the urban areas, and the major direction of migration is from agricultural areas to the centres of industry and commerce.

(e) Females are more mobile than male in the country of birth, but male more frequently venture beyond.

(f) Migration is highly age selective where adults in the working age groups display a greater propensity to migrate.

(g) Volume of migration increases with the process of diversifi­cation of the economy, and improvement in transport facilities.

(h) Migration occurs mainly due to economic reasons.

That migration tends to decline with increasing distance is almost i universal fact. Evidences also indicate that there are generally currents and counter-currents in the migration process (Woods, 1979:191). It has also been established that development and modernization promote internal migration. Several studies have proved that migration is highly age-selective.

However, doubts have been raised concerning some of the other generaliza­tions. That migration occurs in different steps is rather difficult to be established. Similarly, though rural population in the less developed parts of the world is more mobile than its counterpart in the urban areas, migration in the economically developed countries is more likely to be urban to rural than in the opposite direction.

Links and Sources:

Your article Librarry

migration and culture

population and migration

Rural vs urban poverty


About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
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2 Responses to Theories of Migration: Ravenstein’s Laws

  1. Pingback: Migration Theories : Lee’s Push Pull Theory | Rashid's Blog: An Educational Portal

  2. Pingback: An Overview of Inter-linkage of Migration and Tourism | Rashid's Blog: An Educational Portal

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