Migration and Urbanization


This week’s readings discuss migration and urbanization in the United States and around the world. Migration affects populations in a variety of ways such as land use, community composition, health, and resource use. Migration follows patterns and also creates new patterns for populations to develop. Migration and urbanization have the ability to redefine our conceptualization of population. Migration and urbanization have a larger role in demography than may have once been realized. This also may be a result of how migration and urbanization have been viewed and the manner in which they have been presented for discussion.
Migration has such an impact on populations (it threads every aspect of life such as the language spoken, the food consumed, and the creative nature of societies). Business is impacted by population redistribution (positively i.e. through job creation in oil drilling areas or negatively i.e. the blight of many Midwestern manufacturing areas due to the loss of jobs). When a person makes the decision to migrate, the place that they are migrating to is impacted as much as the place that they are migrating away from). Johnson et al. (2005) and White and Lindstrom (2005), discuss migration in the United States specifically the relationship between fertility and migration. With migration fueling changes in fertility, this would indicate the need for accepting countries to develop new viewpoints regarding migrants. Currently in the United States, depending on the status of the migrant, their perceived status is how they are viewed socially. Migration patterns indicate more movement among young people as opposed to older populations. This may be a result of sense of self and lack of social ties that would hinder the ability to migrate. Older populations are more stable and may be unable or unwilling to migrate depending on personal/social/health experiences. Even though there is lower fertility, the number of new migrants having children increases the population of areas that may have been considered below replacement fertility (among those native to the population). Migration patterns highlight spatial patterns of populations. Spatial patterns give clues regarding the net migration of a population. Net migration provides insight into the patterns of a population. This allows for the migration process of a particular community (Johnson et al., 2005). It also gives a broader picture of the demographics of a community (the diversity, the income differentials, the culture).
White and Lindstrom highlight issues of migration from a global perspective. Global migration follows similar patterns to the migration patterns of the United States (just on a larger scale as a result of the larger segments of a population that are in need. Migration cannot continue to be ignored from a policy positon because the effects of migration have the ability transform policy and also highlight new areas for policy and decision making. There are factors that negatively impact migration (housing, costs, traffic, inaccessibility, racism) which leads to negative growth in populations. Garip (2008) links the relationship between migrant social capital and migrant outcomes. The social capital that the migrant relies on for a foundation of support (or does not rely on) impacts their outcome in new areas of migration in various ways (production, self-esteem, integration into new environment, continued relationship with support system in area migrated from). There is a need to listen to the migration experience that migrants are telling through their lived experiences. Also, the social ties that migrants follow/adhere to can impact the migrant experience positively or negatively regardless of the place of migration. Voss mentions the consequences of human migration. The ecological impact on migration provides clues into past, present, and future migration patterns. A good example of this would be the migration patterns of individuals affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As a result of the time needed in order to rebuild many areas of greater New Orleans, many individuals were forced to rebuild in new and sometimes foreign areas. It was often difficult for them to be able to have the resources needed to rebuild their homes in New Orleans and also to maintain a household at the same time. A contrast to the rebuilding effort of New Orleans would be how Thailand and the Philippines (and other areas affected by typhoons) rebuild as a response to natural disasters that are often devastating but they still pull together in order to rebuild their lands.
Johnson et al. (2005) makes the point that urbanization is a direct result of the migration of populations. Montgomery (2008) highlights the single source of data and how this has to be improved upon in order to give a truer reflection of the diversity and changes amongst the population being researched. The definition of urban area and cities will have to be enlarged in order to include the number of voices that can be heard in these populations. Currently the definitions for urban areas and cities can be considered narrow and hides portions of the population that impact the outcomes of the population as a whole. Voss (2007) refers to urbanization as urban demography and discusses how traditionally the view of urban demography has been in terms of spatial demography. He advocates a shift in how urban demography is viewed in order to encompass a broader sense of population and to remove ecological fallacy on the part of the researcher. This can be accomplished with the use of multilevel models. Ravillion (2007) discusses the impact of urbanization on global poverty. A case could be made that the impact of global poverty on urbanization should be researched. As shown in wealthier countries, urbanization isn’t seen as a problem or issue that has to be overcome (i.e. Hong Kong or New York City) but in fact the issue that needs to be addressed is finding solutions to global poverty that will not only help those in urban areas but also those in rural areas so that they are able to live more productive lives and raise healthy children no matter where they choose to reside. Regional differences highlight the urbanization patterns of populations. The developing world is slated to become more urbanized as a result of the increase in migration trends. Many of the readings mention the ecological impact on urbanization. Natural disasters will continue to shift populations from rural to urban landscapes. There is acknowledgement (Montgomery, 2008) that systematic biases have negatively affected the measurement of urban populations. There is an issue with the understanding of the pace of urbanization for global populations (not being compared to the United States).
Montgomery (2008) and Voss (2007) mention a shift from macro spatial demography (looking at populations as a whole) to micro spatial demography (with an emphasis on the individual) as it relates to the areas of migration that are in need of further research. Development of applied demography and its future implications include using measures from other disciplines in order to see the complete picture of a population (the migration trends and patterns). The science of spatial demography will continue to grow and change as more areas are included in research (models and software). Poverty will continue to be more urbanized (due to the increase in urban population sizes). Researchers can no longer ignore cost of living (and other) differences between urban and rural segments of a population. Poston and Bouvier (2010) mentions “Humankind is indeed peripatetic and will always be so”. This is true now more than ever in our changing economic times. There will be a need to change in methods of measurement in order to reflect the changing landscape of populations. Change is the definition of urban and city to more accurately reflect the diversity of a population. Migration and urbanization are issues that demographers will have to be more cognizant of moving toward a new framework of population trends and behaviors.
Discussion Questions:
1. What are some strategies that can be used to address global poverty that will impact urbanization in a positive manner?
2. What would be required for applying multi-level models to various populations?
3. How do the migration patterns of various populations bring cultures together?


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