Labour migration represents the movement of individuals from one country to another with the purpose of seeking work or responding to recruitment drives in another country. However, in labour migration it is possible to identify two types of migrants: highly skilled labour and unskilled low wage labour (including illegal or forced immigrants).
This represents only a small percentage of migration (Peixoto, 2001) and it is the type of migration most demanded by the host countries who develop special types of incentives to attract highly skilled labour, often in specific categories, such as doctors and nurses (Castles, 2005*). The attraction of highly skilled labour lies in the ability of the host country to accumulate human capital with no education or training costs (Figueiredo, 2005). However the loss of skilled labour, a phenomenon known as the “brain drain”, can have severe consequences for the sending countries, which lose human capital and all the money invested in the education and training of the people who leave. Nevertheless, it can be seen as an attractive solution for solving problems of labour shortage and a way to increase economic production (Kubursi, 2006*). Since the 1980s, the USA, Canada and Australia have had specific policies to attract skilled labour in particular categories, using a points system to score applicants who wish to emigrate there. This policy has been followed, more recently, by some European countries and parts of Asia (Castles, 2005*). Highly skilled labour tends to comprise young to early middle-aged people who are from specific sectors, for example medicine or computer programming. Many people stay in the country they migrate to and then raise families and assimilate themselves into the population, retaining a high level of educational attainment in their offspring.
After 1945 unskilled low-wage labour was the main type of migration which played a very important role in the economic reconstruction of the industrialised countries. Not all of this immigration is legal and some countries, such as the USA, have been very attractive to illegal migrants, especially from Mexico and other Latin American countries, willing to work in the “black economy”. In 1988, Sassen, in her approach to the global cities, referred to the dual economy which uses these low skilled labourers as a primary source for the low wage jobs (in industry, construction and domestic service) (Castles, 2005*). This constitutes the largest percentage of economic migration and is the process that attracts more attention from the media and social organisations (Kubursi, 2006*). Unskilled low wage labour is usually also linked to illegal migrants who clandestinely enter the host country. Such people are the most vulnerable to unjust exploitation and human rights violations, because they have an illegal status (Kubursi, 2006). If they remain they frequently end up staying in deprived areas and joining a community of deprived people and are unable to climb out of poverty without help.
When the Central and Eastern European countries joined the EU in 2004, large-scale labour migration from these countries to the west started, especially to countries such as the UK and Ireland, which did not impose any interim immigration controls. The labour market in the still-growing economies (until the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent recession) was and is primarily in three sectors: agriculture (picking and processing agricultural and horticultural products), the hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants) and construction. Many of these people are temporary migrants – possibly seasonal and also for short periods until they have amassed enough money to start a business back home, for example. These migrants are also usually young but may include middle-aged people who may bring their dependents with them. Temporary migrants may be well-educated but unable to transfer their skills to the host country owing to the need for certain certificates for professions, for example, where the host country does not recognise their qualifications.
Forced migration includes not only refugees2 and asylum seekers fleeing war or political repression but also people displaced from their homes by projects such as dams or roads or as a result of certain natural disasters (Castles, 2003*, 2005). Castles (2003) has also referred to another mode of forced migration, the trafficking of people, with special emphasis on women and children destined for the sex industry.
While some countries may be favoured destinations for such migration – asylum seekers to Britain have been an issue in recent years – other countries which do not otherwise feature as places receiving large numbers of labour migration may in fact welcome asylum seekers – Scandinavian countries, for example. The educational level of many refugees, especially asylum seekers may be quite high (their exile may result from them being politically active students for example) or, in the case of people displaced by civil war, it may be very low. Some asylum seekers return to their native country if the circumstances there improve (e.g., Iraqis returning after the fall of Saddam Hussein). Many assimilate into the local ethnic communities and become part of the multi-cultural society, often having a relatively low socio-economic status.
International retirement migration is a phenomenon of the northern countries such as Germany, the UK and the Nordic countries, characterised by the residential mobility of retired people who have the economic power to buy properties abroad (Rodríguez et al., 1998*). Retirement is the main “push factor” to initiate this migration process (King et al., 1998*). As a “pull factor” the pleasant climate characterised by warmer temperatures, the landscape, a quality lifestyle associated with a healthier and slower pace of life, and also the availability of information about the countries as well as previous holiday experiences are all elements that attract immigrants to southern European countries (Rodríguez et al., 1998*; King et al., 1998*; Lardiés Bosque and Castro Romero, 2002; Petrov and Lavalle, 2006*).
The major impact of these immigrants in the host countries is the pressure on urbanisation and the mass construction of housing in coastal and rural areas (Rodríguez et al., 1998*; Petrov and Lavalle, 2006*). According to the EEA (2006*) the coastal zones of Portugal and Spain, along with Ireland, had the highest rates of urbanisation (20 – 35%). In Spain retired immigrants settle in “urbanizaciones” (residential estates) (King et al., 1998*) and the construction of these developments has a large expression in rural towns and villages on the Costa del Sol (Rodríguez et al., 1998). In Portugal, the Algarve is the most popular area for retirement. In this area, also due to the high levels of tourism, there is an increase of infrastructure construction and recreation. Golf, as one of the main attractions, has a direct impact on the “modification of dune soils, loss of natural vegetation, disturbance of sensitive wildlife and extra demand on limited water resources.”(Petrov and Lavalle, 2006, p. 15). Retired immigrants tend to reconstruct semi-derelict farmhouses, live in villas in the rural areas adjacent to the coastal strip or settle in new urban development (King et al., 1998*). According to King et al. (1998) retired immigrants in Italy, settle in rural areas in Tuscany – in “farmhouses”– but they also present a tendency for urban settlements in major cities such as Florence and Lucca.
There are migrations which are similar but not strictly associated with retirement since they involve people in mid- or late-career leaving their jobs and moving to rural areas in other countries, such as British people to rural France. They may tele-work or set up businesses but in essence they are looking for the same lifestyle as the retirees – that is, a less-stressful life, a better quality of life and perhaps the chance to live more cheaply on the same income.
This type of migration occurs inside a particular country, and between regions, especially from economically poor areas and rural parts to major cities. The effects during the 1990s can be explained by the social and economic disadvantages of living in some areas. This trend, which had occurred in western Europe for centuries, had been more-or-less arrested in the Eastern bloc due to social controls but once the socialist system collapsed along with the economies, large scale migration occurred which, with the incorporation of many of these countries into the EU became transformed into international labour migration. The patterns of internal migration can be quite complex and have profound effects on land use as will become clear.
In France, for instance, there is a north to south movement. However, in the old industrial areas of the north there is also out-migration, but in this case to the Paris region, while the inhabitants of the latter tend to move south, attracted by the good image of quality of life and a healthy economic dynamism associated with cities such as Toulouse and Montpellier (Kröhnert et al., 2008*).
The Scandinavian countries have seen movements from peripheral regions and industrial areas to metropolitan areas. This tendency has been reinforced during the 1990s. In Sweden and Finland, for example, there has been large-scale rural depopulation of more remote areas and the main cities have expanded, so that increasing proportions of the population live in cities (Kröhnert et al., 2008*). This has resulted in some places with largely emptied villages and the loss of rural services. These areas now tend to be dominated by, for example, industrial forestry.
In the former Eastern Europe (now referred to as the central and eastern European countries or CEE) in the period since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, large-scale movements from rural and old industrial areas to metropolitan regions have taken place. This has been followed by out-migration to other European countries. The rural areas contain a lot of abandoned land and may be dominated by old people who have been left behind. There is a tendency for young people to leave to seek education as well as work but not to return to rural areas. However, inside the metropolitan areas there is a tendency for suburbanisation away from Soviet or socialist era housing estates dominated by large panel buildings to single family houses in the suburbs, contributing to urban sprawl.
Counter-urbanisation is another type of internal migration and represents the movement of people from urban to rural areas. In England, contradicting the world’s tendency, this movement is increasing and has been observed since the 1980s (Hardill et al., 2004*). This phenomenon is characterised mainly by the in-migration of older couples and “relatively well-off families”, which balance the rates of younger groups moving into cities, and can be explained by four drivers: “commuting patterns; work-driven migration; pre-retirement (movement to rural areas with job but with the intention of retiring in that place); retirement related moves” (Lowe and Stephenson, 2003*, p. 2).
The number of older people living in rural areas is also increasing, being nearly 28% and it continuing to increase (Lowe and Stephenson, 2003). In the UK, the ‘retirement areas’ – places that most attract 60 – 74 year olds – are primarily seaside towns and rural-coastal areas (Champion, 2004, p. 29). Hardill et al. (2004) identify the aim of many people of “re-establishing some quality to life”, after working hard to build up some financial stability, as impulses for retirement migration to rural areas. In this case, the financial resources work as a “push factor” and the desire for a better quality of life a “pull factor”. Also in Ireland, the aim of living in rural areas, near to nature and with a better quality of life, as well as the wish of living in a single family house (EEA, 2006) can also be considered to be “pull factors”. In addition, population growth in cities, high property prices in the city centre and the small size of houses, along with a deficient transportation system work as “push factors” for urban-rural migration.
In some CEE countries there is a small trend for counter-urbanisation. For example, in Estonia, Kontuly and Tammaru (2006) have noted the movement of older people to rural areas, returning to the places of their birth after being forced to live in cities or towns during their working life. In these places the family may own a rural property which was reinstated to them after the end of the Soviet system.