2 Migration and its role in landscape change: previous studies

Landscape changes are dynamic over time due to natural processes and societal development (Bürgi et al., 2004; Wood and Handley, 2001). These changes in landscape patterns are influenced by a number of driving forces. According to Antrop’s (2005*) analysis of landscape changes that have taken place in course of the past centuries, there are three main social driving forces responsible for changes in the landscape: accessibility, urbanization and globalization. Other social drivers such as demography; technology; economy; political and social institutions; culturally determined attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour; information and its flow (Agarwal et al., 2003, p. 36) are also noted in the literature. Lambin et al. (2001*) trying to summarize factors affecting landscape change have used the term “globalisation” as a unifying theme since it can increase or decrease the driving forces by connecting people, places, markets and information all over the world (Lambin et al., 2001, p. 266). What the literature on migration shows is that migration fluxes are one of the expressions of globalisation processes which occur at a national and international level and reflect the different economic and social policies of each country. While the connection between migration and urbanisation has been presented in the literature for specific areas, such as Spain (Zasada et al., 2010*), it is less clear how accessibility and globalisation interact with migration. Even though these factors are not directly addressed in detail in this paper, the next section presents a conceptual framework which aims to structure the migration literature and to give directions for further research on the subject.

The review of the literature shows that flows of people moving from one place to another, in a voluntary or a forced way have always existed as a result of climate changes, wars, demographic growth, or economic reasons (Castles, 2000*). Since the 16th century, demographic changes in Europe have also functioned as driving forces for landscape change (Antrop, 2005). Following a general trend of out-migration until 1945, the post war years and particularly the period from the 1980s until the present, international immigration levels in Europe increased, reaching particularly high levels in the 1990s and since (Boswell, 2005*; Castles, 2000*), due to the combination of a prolonged period of sustained economic growth (that ended in 2008), the fall of the Berlin Wall, which opened up Eastern Europe, the end of the Soviet Union (Godoy, 2002) and, since 2004, the expansion of the European Union and liberalisation of restrictions on movement within much of the EU.

The impact of migration on host societies has been widely discussed, mainly in terms of social and economic impacts rather than on landscape change, although, according to (Greenwood and Hunt, 2003*, p. 3), urbanisation might have been responsible for raising the initial interest in migration processes by academics. During the transition from the 19th to the 20th centuries in both the U.S. and in Western European, urbanisation grew quickly, mainly due to populations moving from the countryside to the cities and also because of the large numbers of immigrants arriving in American cities. By the 1920s, migration was being studied as a social and demographic phenomenon and the Great Depression in the 1930s was an incentive for economists to join other scholars on migration as a topic of research (Greenwood and Hunt, 2003). Recently, many scholars have been looking at this phenomenon from different perspectives, such as sociology, anthropology, politics and economics, leading to a fragmented view of migration (Borkert et al., 2006). However, studies regarding the impact of migration in land-use change are very limited (López et al., 2006), especially in the European context; recent work by the authors of this paper has started to redress this imbalance, examining some of the migration hotspots, for instance for retirement migration, and consequent landscape changes. Furthermore, it is important to note that while much migration is from rural to urban areas and hence the significant effect on land use change tends to be focused on urban areas, out-migration from rural areas also has a profound effect on land use change, as will be discussed in detail in Section 6.

2.1 Migration: Definitions

There is no single official definition of migration and the lack of agreement on how to define it between different countries and organisations is both significant and problematic for any international study. Different national statistical offices use different definitions when they are compiling census or migration data and this is an issue when trying to compare data and to provide a Europe-wide picture. For the purposes of this paper, migration is defined according to the International Migration Organisation (Perruchoud, 2004, p. 41) as: “A process of moving, either across an international border, or within a State. It is a population movement, encompassing any kind of movement of people, whatever its length, composition and cause”.

Some of the theories on migration found in the literature focus on the initiation of international migration while others focus on the reasons why international migration continues over time and different conceptual frameworks are usually presented. For instance, the first model to explain the migratory movements was based on the Neoclassical Economic Theory (Arango, 2000). This model is based on international labour market inequalities, which generate wage differentials across borders (Kubursi, 2006*; Massey, 2003). These inequalities lead to the movement of workers from areas with surplus of labour and low wages to countries, or regions, where there is demand for labour and where wages are higher. The premise behind the neoclassical theory, that an individual would move to improve his or her economic situation, is one of the bases for the “push-pull” model (Figueiredo, 2005*; Peixoto, 2004). This framework perceives migration as a consequence of the interaction of “push” factors that motivate people to move and leave their places of origin, and “pull” factors that attract people to particular places (Portes, 1995*). The “push factors” include demographic pressures, poverty or social and political hardship, while the “pull factors” can include the perceived economic, political and social prosperity or freedom of the prospective receiving country (Portes, 1995*; Portes and Böröcz, 1989*).

While we recognise the contribution of the neoclassical economic model as the source of some push and pull factors, we need to point out that there are many more factors, other than economic reasons, that can affect the actual pattern of migration, such as social, political and cultural conditions and past colonial history of both countries or regions (that which the migrants leave and that where they go). This paper therefore builds on the push-pull model but also brings the notion of ‘environmental supportiveness’ to the analysis of migration (Sugiyama and Ward Thompson, 2007) – or the extent to which environmental constraints and possibilities guide individual and collective decisions to migrate. This transactional concept is borrowed from environmental psychology and involves both personal and environmental factors giving us more possibilities to analyse issues of motivation, attractions and impediments in relation to migration in a more holistic way. The use of environmental supportiveness to conceptualise the relationship between migration and landscape also gives us the possibility of linking person-environment factors with the dynamic experience of the physical and spatial structure of the landscape.

2.2 Environmental support in the context of migration: The role of push and pull factors

The model used to explain and to predict migration trends builds on the notion of environmental support and highlights relevant push and push factors beyond the merely economic. These consist of one set of factors which tend to push a person into becoming a migrant and to leave their original place of residence and a second set of factors which pull them towards a certain destination as noted above. A typical example is related to unemployment or low wages which may act as a push factor to leave one place while a job market and higher wages in a specific region or country would act as the corresponding pull factor – clearly related to the neo-classical economic model. However, political repression could also act as a push factor leading someone to try to become an asylum seeker in a country seen as being easy to get into and where other pull factors include the presence of other people from the same ethnic and political group to offer support. This means that there are particular places which tend to have specific combinations of push factors and others with complementary pull factors leading to unequal trends of migration. Some countries such as the UK are very popular as destinations and others, such as Poland much less so for all kinds of migration. Likewise, some countries are noted for being sources of certain kinds of migrants, such as young labour migrants coming from Poland.

Figure 1* shows an example of how a combination of push and pull factors influences different classes of migrants to Portugal. This example is relevant because it shows distinct groups of people with specific reasons for migration which are also different from each other.

Tables 13 show how a number of different push and pull factors have been identified in the literature reviewed in this paper. From this it is possible to identify different categories of factors which allows the model to be applied in different settings and among different migrant groups. Table 4 shows this application for specific countries.

View Image
Figure 1: The push and pull migration model applied to Portugal.

As shown in Tables 13, there is the need to acknowledge the multiplicity of factors influencing migration and its consequence on the landscape. When observed through the ‘environmental supportiveness’ lens, for instance, migration to sunbelt belt areas of Spain may provide support for retirees’ personal projects in terms of access to an attractive outdoor lifestyle in a warm climate; however, it does not necessarily result in supportiveness for the ecology of these fragile landscapes resulting from the development of dense settlements close to the coastline. There is therefore, a fit in terms of people’s desires and needs but a lack of fit in terms of management and conservation of the physical environment.

Table 1: Examples of push factors (from the literature review) supporting the model
Push Factors – Migration

Demographic growth

Portes (1995)


Portes and Böröcz (1989)

Social and political hardship


Investment in human capital – wish to use skills elsewhere

Massey et al. (1993*)

Cultural links between core areas (cities) and peripheral areas

Massey et al. (1993, 2005)

Difficult living conditions in the city – high stress levels, poor housing, high crime levels, housing costs, poor transport

Malgesini (2006*); EEA (2006*)

Climate change

UNFPA (2007)


Lardiés Bosque and Castro Romero (2002*); King et al. (1998*)

Table 2: Examples of pull factors (from the literature) supporting the model
Pull Factors – Migration

Opportunities and an available labour market for unskilled labour

Malgesini (2006*); Malheiros (2002*); Malheiros and Vala (2004*); Fonseca (2001*)

Social networks, “co-ethical” networks, use of human capital

Deurloo and Musterd (1998*); Bodaar and Rath (2005*); Hårsman (2006*); Malheiros and Vala (2004*); Arapoglou (2006*)


Lardiés Bosque and Castro Romero (2002*); King et al. (1998*)

Historical and cultural links

Deurloo and Musterd (1998*); Malheiros (2002*); Malheiros and Vala (2004*)

Globalisation and transnational cooperation

Favell (2003*); White (1998)

Exodus of local population from rural areas

ICFTU (2003); Labrianidis and Sykas (2009*)

Table 3: Examples of observable changes in land use (from the literature) supporting the model
Changes in distribution and use of land


Malgesini (2006*); Bodaar and Rath (2005*); Rodríguez et al. (1998*); Arapoglou (2006*); King et al. (1998*)

Suburbanisation and urban sprawl

Malheiros (2002*); Malheiros and Vala (2004*); Arapoglou (2006*)

Concentration of migrants in specific sectors of a city

Fonseca (2001*); Arapoglou (2006*); Bodaar and Rath (2005); Hårsman (2006*); Favell (2003)

Landscape change of coastal areas

Rodríguez et al. (1998*); Petrov and Lavalle (2006*); King et al. (1998*)

Construction in rural areas

EEA (2006*)

Changes in agricultural landscapes (extensive into intensive agriculture/changes in the type of species/products)

Labrianidis and Sykas (2009*)

Table 4: Push and pull factors affecting migration in relation to specific countries

“Push” Factors

“Pull” Factors




High price of houses in urban areas


Loss of jobs (industrial and agriculture sectors)


Age factor

Availability of jobs in services sector in urban areas


Urbanisation by the young population


Suburbanisation by family ages


Urban-rural migration by older people

Kontuly and Tammaru (2006*)


Pleasant climate


Quality Lifestyle


Previous holiday experiences






Settlement in costal mid-size cities by the North European immigrants in Cataluña

Lardiés Bosque and Castro Romero (2002*)

Retirement of UK citizens

Warmer climate


Healthier and slower pace of life


Family connections

Spain, Italy, Portugal, Malta

Settlement in rural areas in Tuscany – “farmhouse”


Settlement in “urbanizaciones” (residential estates) – Spain


Construction on the fringes of the main coastal settlement axis – Spain


Reconstruction of semi-derelict farmhouses – Algarve


Dense distribution of villas in the rural areas adjacent to the coastal strip – Algarve


Development of new urban settlements – Algarve

King et al. (1998*)

High prices of houses in the city centre


Small size of the house


Dublin’s transportation system

Single-houses in the countryside

Ireland (Dublin)

Urban-rural migration


Urban sprawl

EEA (2006*)


Economic boom


Counter-urbanisation of native population


Inaccessibility to homeownership and social rented housing


Availability of private rented accommodation

Ireland (Dublin)

Spatial distribution of immigrants in the city was uneven but with tendency to concentrate in deprived areas.


The impact of immigrants in the deprived areas contributed to the social lift of those areas.

Fahey and Fanning (2010)

  Go to previous page Scroll to top Go to next page