There are a variety of reasons why people come and go from their home country – this may include choosing to receive medical treatment abroad or retiring somewhere warmer. The impacts are varied.
Short-term migration from the UK
Around 60,000 people from the UK travelled abroad to receive medical treatment in 2009. Nearly 26,000 of these were for dentistry. Even when travel costs are included, it can be cheaper to travel abroad to have dental work done.
Cosmetic surgery, infertility treatment and orthopaedic treatment are also reasons for travel. People may be unhappy with the NHS or face a long waiting list.
Making this choice does have problems – it can be harder to check that private doctors in other countries have the correct qualifications, and people may not be fully insured. Infections or superbugs may be brought back to the UK.
Athletes may be required to travel around the globe to compete in various tournaments. Sport may also require someone to take temporary residence in a country to fulfil a contract. Football in the UK is a sport that attracts foreign players. Pull factors are higher wages and the reputation of the country.
Multicultural Real Madrid football team
Many people plan to spend their retirement in a different area. The south-west counties of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall are popular.
Women playing bingo in a local community hall
The perceived attractions include:
- a slower pace of life
- the scenery
- the community
- away from the busy larger cities
- lower crime rates
Popular areas for retirement migrants have problems as a result of this:
- pressure on health care
- demand for social services
- an increase in house prices
- a lack of suitable housing
There are also advantages:
- there is an increased demand for local services – so the local shop and pubs have more custom
- jobs in social care and health care are available
- a growth of age related services, such as chiropodists, social groups and bingo
- younger retired people spend “the grey pound”, spending money through travel and recreation
Impacts of migration – economic migrants
Migration has an impact on the place that has been left behind as well as on the place that is being migrated to. These impacts can be both positive and negative. The table shows how migration from Turkey to Germany affects the two countries.
Migration between Turkey and Germany
|Negative impact||Postive impact|
Some of the migrants can’t speak German and there has been racial tension.
Germany has gained a source of cheap labour.
Turkey has lost some of its workforce.
Migrants send money home to their families in Turkey.
Economic migrants – values and attitudes
Different groups of people have different interests. In the case of economic migrants, look at the views of:
- The migrant. How do they feel about their new life? How do they feel about leaving their family behind? How do they feel about people in their destination country who may be hostile towards them?
- The migrant’s family left behind. How do they feel about it? Do they see it as a positive move? Will they be better or worse off?
- The government in the host country. What is their policy on migrants? Are they good or bad for the economy? Are they good or bad for society?
- Other workers in the host country. How do they feel about the economic migrants? What type of jobs are they taking? Is there competition for jobs? Are they helping the economy?
Economic migration is defined as a choice to move to improve the standard of living by gaining a better paid job.
When Poland and seven other Eastern European countries joined the EU in 2004, the UK received many economic migrants. There were 500,000 workers from Eastern Europe in 2009. The pull factors included wages five times greater than they could get at home. Some come for seasonal jobs, such as vegetable and fruit picking. More qualified migrants may look for medical or education jobs. The Eastern European migrants are not evenly spread across the UK, as the map below shows.
These maps of the UK show the total numbers of Eastern European migrants in each local authority who registered for work between May 2004 and December 2007.
As opportunities in Poland and other eastern European countries increase, people have started to move back.
The impacts of migration – refugees
The Darfur region
Many refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan have migrated to the neighbouring country Chad, because of the civil war. Many have also stayed in Sudan, but live in refugee camps.
Refugees in Darfur
Refugees are living in cramped and unsanitary conditions, and many have lost family members in the conflict or from disease. Water is scarce and most people rely on aid agencies for food, shelter and medicine. However, the aid efforts are being hampered by the Sudanese government and refugees are dying of disease, starvation and malnutrition. Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the refugees from Sudan are putting a strain on already scarce resources.