What is the Difference Between Internal and International Migration?

Migration is the term for human movement from one location to another. Migration can occur both within and across nations. Numerous factors influence migration.

These can be environmental, social, political, or economic. Migration is influenced by push and pull influences. There are two types of migration: internal and international migration.

The difference between internal and international migration is that internal migration takes place within the country while in international migration, one person moves from one country to another.

Let’s learn the definitions of internal and international migration below:

What is Internal Migration?

What Is Internal Migration

Internal migration, as the word means, is the movement of individuals within a nation from a region with limited opportunity to one with more. People migrate to urban and better places in search of better conditions, employment, education, etc.

Internal migration can also aid in achieving rapid economic growth and the elimination of poverty. Rural communities gain from out-migration through remittances, and particularly through rural-urban mobility, which increases the efficiency of labor utilization.

Internal migration occurs when people begin to move from the north to the far south because the northern region has become too hot to sustain cities due to climate change.

As an example, consider the migration of the Irish to England, where there was more and better employment.

Cause of Internal Migration

There are several reasons why people move inside their own nations. Cultural, demographic, environmental, economic, and political reasons can be categorized into five groups:

1. Cultural


There is a lot of cultural variation inside nations, especially big ones like the United States. They want to relocate because they are sick of the commotion. To engage themselves in a different culture, that person can relocate to another district or the countryside.

2. Demographic


Age, race, and language are additional factors that influence internal migration. People commonly retire in states like Florida in the United States, an example of internal migration brought on by aging. 

People also migrate to areas where their language is more widely spoken or their culture is more apparent.

3. Environmental


Where you reside is a place where weather complaints are common. People migrate to areas with better climates because of harsh winters, violent storms, and extreme heat.

4. Economic


People are motivated to migrate by money and opportunity. Migration from rural areas to cities has grown massively since the industrial revolution. 

Major reasons for internal migration include moving from one location within a nation to another in search of a better salary or lower living expenses.

5. Political


Another reason for internal migration is politics. Someone may be motivated enough to migrate to a different city, state, province, etc., if their government is making decisions they disagree with.

What is International Migration?

What Is International Migration

The movement of people between nations is known as international migration. Simply put, it refers to cross-border migration, which can be forced or voluntary, long-distance (like from Nigeria to China) or short-distance (like from Nigeria to Niger). International migration can be temporary or permanent.

Similar to internal migration, international migration is a process that has been for as long as there have been humans. Still, globalization, which has made the world a global village, has changed how people view international migration.

International migration used to be a system that isolated migrants from their towns and families while keeping the public in the dark about individual cases.

Example: When an individual from Africa or any other region of Africa relocates to another country in search of employment, a profession, a business, a higher standard of life, or a permanent one.

Causes of International Migration                                 

International Migration is the act of moving, either temporarily or permanently, from one country to another. Migration of people may occur for various causes, including social, economic, or environmental ones. Although international migration might result in the loss of human capital, it also fosters remittance flows and strengthens global trade, and technical transfers. Some of the primary reasons for international migration include the following:

  • Many move to a new nation for a better quality of life or to be closer to family and friends.
  • Natural catastrophes can also force people to relocate.
  • Some people choose to migrate to improve their professional chances.
  • Some people are forced to migrate because of conflict or poverty.

Differences Between Internal and International Migration

The differences between internal and international migration are given below:

The primary difference between internal and international migration is that internal migration occurs when residents of this country start shifting from the north to the south due to the extreme heat brought on by climate change.

On the other hand, people move across international borders for various reasons, including conflict, famine, climate change, human rights violations, etc.

Another difference between internal and international migration is that internal migration does not require a passport or a visa. International migration involves numerous checkpoints and requires these documents from the immigrant.

There are no limits on working anywhere in internal migration, in contrast to international migration, where government officials require specific permission to labor abroad.

Similarities Between Internal and International Migration

The similarities between internal and international migration are given below:

Both types of migration occur in search of improved living standards, including employment, education, etc.

• In both cases, the general economic situation is improving, and social standing is rising.

• Migrants’ lifestyles alter as a result of migration. There is a cultural interchange in both types of migration.

Any migrant who leaves poor-paying employment in their home countries for better-paying ones increases the global GDP. Additionally, immigrants make remittances to their families, which are typically far larger than any aid or foreign investment.

What is the Difference Between Internal and International Migration?

Highlighting the main differences between internal and international migration in the following table:

Internal MigrationInternational Migration
Internal migration is the movement of people within a nation.International migration is the movement of people from one country to another country.
Semi-skilled and unskilled workers in rural areas are examples of those affected by internal migration.International migration is seen among highly qualified individuals.
The government may or may not provide for the needs of the internal migrants.The government offers international migrants security.


The difference between internal and international migration is that internal migration is a form of voluntary migration in which individuals move within their nations. On the other hand, international migration involves migration from one country to another.

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