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Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds Hello, everybody. Today we will look at the different kinds of human mobility that cities experience. Some are temporary, like in the case of people commuting to work, but others are permanent. Let’s start by looking at internal migration. A fundamental factor for urban growth, which historically has come from rural areas surrounding cities. A key motivation for people to move has always been employment, but for many it has also been the desire to escape the social constraints of rural life. Not all internal migration originates in the countryside. Indeed, increasingly today, and especially in the Global North, it is people from smaller towns and cities who move to the major metropolitan centres.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second For example, for prospects of better paid work or the allure of more exciting lifestyles. A second type of human mobility is that of international labour migration. As a source of low-skilled labour in factories, service industries, and the domestic sector, international migrants have long had and continue to have a major impact upon urban economic development. These migrants have sometimes arrived in cities through recruitment programmes, but many choose to move to cities in order to search for work. They possess a variety of legal statuses and end up being employed in formal or informal economies. As individual migrants settle, they may bring over other family members through family reunification.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds Let’s now look at international high-skilled migration, which over the last 40 years, has contributed to the rise of global cities such as New York and London. This workforce tends to earn more than the average local citizen and to be globally mobile, and is thus considered the polar opposite of low-skilled migrant workers, who often face low wages and greater restrictions to their movement. However, the situation of a high-skilled migrant can change quite markedly. A white Westerner in Dubai tends to earn at least twice as much as an Indian colleague for doing the same IT job, and usually frequents the more socially exclusive parts of the city.

Skip to 2 minutes and 35 seconds Let us now take a look at another type of migration, that of people fleeing persecution. Although in recent decades, states and international organisations have sought to disperse refugees across countries, or to accommodate them in camps, when given the choice, they have tended to move towards cities. Often settling in poor areas and finding employment in the informal economy. Today, over half the world’s refugees live in cities, not in camps. Finally, there are two forms of international mobility towards the cities, in which work or forced movement are not the primary factors. One is educational migration, where people move to cities specifically for the opportunity to pursue tertiary education. Another is retirement migration.

Skip to 3 minutes and 27 seconds Over the last 30 years, a steady increase in retirees especially from the Global North have moved towards medium-sized coastal cities with warmer climates. There are currently 121,000 British citizens over the age of 65 currently residing in Spain. Many in cities such as Malaga, Torrevieja, and Benidorm on the Mediterranean coast. Such individuals, however, are often referred to as ex-pats rather than migrants.

The types of migration to cities

Here we describe the principal types of inward migration to cities.

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This video is from the free online course:

Migration and Cities

European University Institute (EUI)