As noted earlier, the increase in non-EU immigration could, with the increased population in ghetto areas or similar concentrations of ethnic minorities living in potentially still relatively deprived conditions, have important political and social repercussions. Based on the notion of environmental supportiveness, previously discussed, concerns over social cohesion, social support, educational attainments and other socio-economic aspects demand attention in future, especially in those countries which are the more significant attractors of migrants. This has many implications for urban development, housing policies, provision of education and other services, crime and policing – factors that have direct implications for peoples’ quality of life. If a ‘balance’ can be achieved between the push and pull factors, in terms of the attractions for and impediments to migration in order to result in both increased well-being and sustainable land use management practices then a more holistic understanding of these processes is necessary. Environment-person processes, in this sense need to be contextualised in relation to particular flows, locations, and socio-demographic aspects of migration.
One of the interesting aspects to come to light in terms of land use change through migration pressures is the fact that it can operate in two ways at once – the changes occurring where the migrant comes from – such as rural land abandonment – and where the emigrants travel to – such as an increase in density of population and of multi-occupied houses. This “two country model” should not be surprising and is understood by economists but so far has not been brought out in the migration literature which has been largely interested in social, demographic or political factors and not with land use change.
For a number of reasons, not least the absence of much hard data, this study has major limitations which can only be overcome when and if more comprehensive data becomes available. Nevertheless, as an attempt to show the effects of these social factors as drivers of land use change it achieves some significant results. The identification of linkages between specific migration processes and land use change illustrated here shows that with further research, including the study of specific migrating groups in both the country of origin and the country(ies) of destination, offers potential to develop much more sophisticated models and projections. Over the last 50 or 60 years, as the literature review shows, patterns of migration have changed dramatically. Europe used to be a net out-migrating area and the labour flows were restricted. The Iron Curtain cut off large sections of Europe from each other. Now, with the enlarged EU, with globalisation, with the removal of internal borders in most of Europe, with the need to increase competitiveness and with cheap travel around the world it has become easier than ever before as well as more attractive for different forms of migration to take place. The effects of this are all around and politicians in many countries are making this a bigger issue. With more harmonisation of data resolved to common spatial scales at a European level it should be possible to understand these shifts and to formulate policies to manage them. The recognition that there is a two-country model in migration and land use change as well as economics should also enable better connections between the two phenomena to be made. Social policy and land use policy cannot be viewed as two separate aspects where migration is concerned. This paper helps to bring these aspects into sharper focus.