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Migration: Types, Causes and Consequences- NCERT Notes UPSC

Mar 29, 2022


Migration has been an integral part and a very important factor in redistributing population over time and space.

The history of India is a history of waves of migrants coming and settling one after another in different parts of the country. 

Read this article to get detailed information and valuable insights on the crucial topic Migration: Types, Causes and Consequences ,that should be studied thoroughly during the UPSC exam preparation. 

Indian Diaspora

During Colonial Period (British Period)

Millions of the indentured labourers were sent to Mauritius, Caribbean islands (Trinidad, Tobago and Guyana), Fiji and South Africa by British from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. 

To Reunion Island, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Surinam by French and Dutch.

By Portuguese, People were sent from Goa, Daman and Diu to Angola, Mozambique to work as plantation workers.

All such migrations were covered under the time-bound contract known as Girmit Act (Indian Emigration Act).

Second Wave of Migrants

They ventured out into the neighbouring countries in recent times as professionals, artisans, traders, and factory workers, in search of economic opportunities to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and African countries, etc. and the trend still continues.

There was a steady outflow of India’s semi-skilled and skilled labour in the wake of the oil boom in West Asia in the 1970s. 

There was also some outflow of entrepreneurs, storeowners, professionals, businessmen to Western Countries.


The Census of India gives information about migration in the country

  • Migration was recorded beginning from the first Census of India conducted in 1881 which was recorded on the basis of place of birth.
  • The first major modification was introduced in the 1961 Census by bringing in two additional components: the place of birth i.e., village or town and duration of residence (if born elsewhere).
  • Further in 1971, additional information on the place of last residence and duration of stay at the place of enumeration were incorporated.
  • Information on reasons for migration was incorporated in the 1981 Census and modified in consecutive Censuses.

Also Read: How to Prepare for History?

Basis of Enumeration of Migration in Census of India

  • Place of birth, if the place of birth is different from the place of enumeration (life-time migrant)
  • Place of residence, if the place of the last residence is different from the place of enumeration (migrant by place of last residence).

As per the 2011 census, out of 1,210 million people in the country, 455.8 million (about 37%) were reported as migrants of place of the last residence.

Streams of Migration

A few facts pertaining to internal migration (within the country) and international migration (out of the country and into the country from other countries) are presented.

Streams under the Internal Migration

  • Rural to Rural (R-R)
  • Rural to Urban (R-U)
  • Urban to Urban (U-U)
  • Urban to Rural (U-R)

Trends in Migration

  • In India, during 2011, out of 455.0 million migrants, enumerated on the basis of the last residence, 141.9 million had changed their place of residence in the last ten years.
    • Out of these, 118.7 million were intra-state migrants. 
    • The stream was dominated by female migrants. Most of these were migrants related to marriage.
  • Females predominate the streams of short distance rural to rural migration in both types of migration. 
    • Contrary to this, men predominate the rural to the urban stream of inter-state migration due to economic reasons.
  • Indian Census 2011 has recorded that more than 5 million persons have migrated to India from other countries.
    • Out of these, about 88.9 per cent came from the neighbouring countries, Bangladesh has the highest share followed by Nepal and Pakistan.

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Spatial Variations

  • Some states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat and Haryana attract migrants from other states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, etc.
  • Maharashtra occupied first place in migrants, followed by Delhi, Gujarat, and Haryana. 
  • On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh had the largest number of net out-migrants from the state.

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Causes of Migration

Push factor: They cause people to leave their place of residence or origin.

  • In India, people migrate from rural to urban areas mainly due to poverty, high population pressure on the land, lack of basic infrastructural facilities like health care, education, etc.
  • Natural disasters such as floods, droughts, earthquakes, tsunami, wars and local conflicts also give an extra push to migrate.

Pull factors: They attract people from different places.

  • The rural migrants move to urban areas in search of better opportunities, availability of regular work and relatively higher wages. 
  • Better opportunities for education, better health facilities and sources of entertainment, etc., are also quite important pull factors.


  • The migration of individuals is influenced by a wide range of variables. As a result of the increased severity or frequency of disasters, economic difficulties, extreme poverty, or armed conflict, there may be either voluntary or forced movements.
  • Recently, migrant workers in India have observed exploitation, trafficking, psychological abuse, and physical violence. This is a direct threat to the unity and integrity of the country.

Click here to read more about the recent developments on Inter-state migration in India.

Consequences of Migration

Migration is a response to the uneven distribution of opportunities over space. Migration creates both benefits and problems for the areas, people migrate from and migrate to.

Economic Consequences

  • Remittance sent by migrants: Remittances from international migrants are one of the major sources of foreign exchange. As per a World Bank report in 2019, India received $83.1 billion. The top states receiving remittances are Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh
  • The amount of remittances sent by the internal migrants is very meagre as compared to international migrants but it plays an important role in the growth of the economy of the source area.
  • Negative consequences 
    • The unregulated migration to the metropolitan cities of India has caused overcrowding. 
    • The development of slums in industrially developed states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Delhi is a negative consequence of unregulated migration.

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Demographic Consequences

  • Migration leads to the redistribution of the population within a country.
    • Rural urban migration is one of the important factors contributing to the population growth of cities.
  • Age and skill selective out migration from the rural area have an adverse effect on the rural demographic structure.
  • Negative 
    • The high out migration from Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Eastern Maharashtra have brought serious imbalances in age and sex composition in these states. 
    • Similar imbalances are also brought in the recipients’ states.

Social Consequences

  • Agents of Social Change: The new ideas related to new technologies, family planning, girls’ education, etc. get diffused from urban to rural areas through them.
  • Migration leads to intermixing of people from diverse cultures. It led to the evolution of composite culture and breaking through the narrow considerations.
  • Negative Consequences 
    • Anonymity creates a social vacuum and a sense of dejection among individuals.
    • The continued feeling of dejection may motivate people to fall in the trap of anti-social activities like crime and drug abuse.

Some useful links for UPSC IAS preparation:

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Ukraine War and The South Asian Regional Security Environment How to Prepare for Geography?

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Environmental Consequences

  • The overcrowding of people due to rural-urban migration has put pressure on the existing social and physical infrastructure in the urban areas.
  • It leads to the unplanned growth of urban settlement and the formation of slums shanty colonies.
  • Due to the over-exploitation of natural resources, cities are facing the acute problem of depletion of groundwater, air pollution, disposal of sewage and management of solid wastes.

Other Consequences

  • Migration (even excluding marriage migration) affects the status of women directly or indirectly. 
  • In the rural areas, male selective out-migration leaving their wives behind puts extra physical as well mental pressure on the women. 
  • Migration of ‘women’ either for education or employment enhances their autonomy and role in the economy.

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