Pull Factors
Pull Factors
Questions for Discussion

Create a family tree. Ask your parents and grandparents about when and why your family immigrated to the U.S. Was it mainly “push” factors or “pull” factors that made your family decide to migrate?

Whereas push factors drive migrants out of their countries of origin, pull factors are responsible for dictating where these travelers end up. The positive aspects of some countries serve to attract more immigrants than others. Below are three examples of pull factors that draw migrants to receiving countries.

Higher standards of living/Higher wages: Economic incentives provide both the biggest push and pull factors for potential migrants. People moving to more developed countries will often find that the same work they were doing at home is rewarded abroad with higher wages. They will also find a greater safety net of welfare benefits should they be unable to work. Migrants are drawn to those countries where they can maximize benefits.

For example, Mexican migrants coming to America do not move strictly to escape unemployment at home. In fact, during recent years the unemployment rate in Mexico has remained significantly lower than that of the U.S; in 2011, for example, the unemployment rate in Mexico was 5.2 percent, while in the U.S. it was 9 percent (Index Mundi).  Even so, a sizeable wage gap exists between the U.S. and Mexico.  In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in the hopes of increasing wages in Mexico, among other goals.  However, since this time there has been little evidence of wage convergence between the economies of the U.S. and Mexico, meaning that wages remain significantly higher in the U.S. for a large portion of the population (Hanson, 2003).  Thus, Mexican migrants may come to the U.S. because they are attracted by the higher hourly wages, rather than the opportunity to find employment in general.

Labor Demand: Almost all developed countries have found that they need migrants’ low skill labor to support their growing economies. While most manufacturing is now outsourced to developing nations, low skill employment opportunities are available in wealthy countries due to growing service sectors.  These economies create millions of jobs that domestic workers may refuse to fill because of their low wages and minimal opportunity for professional advancement.  Canada is an example of this trend; the country’s migrant population has nearly doubled over the past couple of years (Geddes, 2012).

It was the worst imaginable way to jolt Canadians toward noticing that low-wage foreign workers are an increasingly important segment of the country’s labour force. Ten workers, nine from Peru and one from Nicaragua, recruited to fill jobs vaccinating chickens, were killed, and three others badly injured, when their van ran a stop sign and collided with a truck at a rural crossroads in southwestern Ontario…  When Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won power in 2006, 255,440 foreign temporary workers lived in Canada. By 2010, their ranks had expanded to 432,682 (Geddes, 2012).

Political and Religious Freedom: Much like discrimination and persecution provide strong push factors for people to leave their home countries, the existence of tolerant government policies with regards to religion, race, political views and so on may make certain countries more attractive to potential migrants.  This pull factor is especially relevant to those migrants who are escaping situations of persecution (and may be considered refugees, as noted above) though it can apply to other migrants as well.

With the expansion of telecommunications technology that has accompanied globalization, migrants have found it drastically easier to stay connected with the religious community that they left behind in their home country, thus making the decision to move away from home an easier one. In places where this “transnational religion” is promoted through financial institutions, sister congregations, community organizations, telecommunications infrastructure, and governmental tolerance, migration by religiously devout persons has followed. For example, a large Muslim community with strong ties to religious leaders and congregations in Pakistan and Bangladesh has sprung up in Britain; they have used their freedom of religious association to press local authorities for changes in religious rights and education.

Other pull factors include superior medical care or education, family links or simply a personal fondness of a certain place, whether it may be linked to culture, language, weather conditions or other influencing factors.



Next: Economic Effects of Migration