Understanding migrant populations

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Co-financed by the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals

4. Understanding migrant populations

4.4 Understanding push and pull factors

The demographics of an area are affected not only by the number of people coming into an area (through migration and births), but also by the number of people leaving (through migration and deaths).  In order to develop a strategy to encourage migrants to come to an area and settle, it is important to understand what attracts people to an area, and equally what causes them to move away.

The priority attached to different push and pull factors may vary, depending on whether migration is internal (short distance), or from overseas (long distance).   For example, currently internal migration in Scotland is greater in volume than overseas migration.  Most migration tends to be short distance, and can often be driven by housing factors.  Generally, long distance migration (including overseas migration) tends to be economically driven.  However, the picture at the local level can be quite complex.  For example, people might move to a particular area for employment, but then have to move out of the area due to lack of suitable housing.  It will therefore be important to ensure that policies and approaches are tailored to respond to specific local circumstances.

Find out more…

GRAMNet will shortly be publishing research around the complex factors that can impact on migration at local level. 

4.4.1 Pull factors

There are likely to be a number of factors that will influence whether or not migrants choose to move to an area, and stay there.  These might include:   

  • access to, and availability of affordable housing; 
  • access to schools and other further and higher education institutions;
  • existence of established migrant communities; 
  • good natural and safe environment; 
  • access to good and affordable transport links;
  • access to a range of leisure opportunities;
  • access to a range of employment opportunities; and 
  • proactive local initiatives to welcome migrants. 

4.4.2 Push factors

Similarly, there may be other factors that might discourage people from choosing to move to a particular area, or encourage them to move on to other areas:

  • low skills economy;
  • limited employment opportunities, and/ or limited career progression opportunities;
  • geographically remote from central belt Scotland;
  • area has a poor reputation;
  • aspirations of people to live in a more ‘desirable area’;
  • lack of further and higher education opportunities;
  • lack of access to ESOL classes;
  • limited supply of good quality, affordable housing;
  • house prices and cost of living too high; and
  • poor transport connections.

Case study 

Aberdeen City Council has taken a proactive approach to promoting Aberdeen as a positive destination, as a way of attracting economic migrants to the city. As part of this, they have visited a number of countries across Europe (Poland, Latvia, Romania, France, Spain and Greece) and have taken representatives from the business community in Aberdeen with them. They make it very clear to prospective migrants about what to expect, in terms of the cost of living in Aberdeen - high house prices and rental charges etc. They are also clear that potential migrants need to have the right transferable skills for the jobs market. Aberdeen City Council also works closely with local employers to ensure that they are providing appropriate support to migrants workers who decide to move to the city. For example, in the past, they have leased surplus council housing to employers, who then sub-let this (on a not for profit basis) to migrants. This worked particularly well for migrants who had 'no recourse to public funds'.  However, currently they are unable to do this, as they have no surplus accommodation.