Standard Article

Labor force participation

Migration A–Z


  1. Philippe Couton

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm330

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Couton, P. 2013. Labor force participation. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


One of the salient features of international migration during the period from the end of World War II to the present is its very close relationship with labor markets, in both receiving and sending countries. Entirely new work-related categories of immigrants have emerged during that period, such as the Gastarbeiters in Germany, the ouvriers immigrés in France, and the various flows of temporary farm laborers in the United States and Canada. Migration has always been strongly influenced by labor demand and supply, of course, but never to the extent of the recent past. The great migration flows that preceded this era were more often the product of political, religious, or demographic forces rather than primarily motivated by labor-market considerations. These include the large flows of religious dissenters foundational to the United States in its early history, and the sporadic but often massive movements of political refugees throughout the world (including postrevolutionary émigrés from France, Loyalists into Canada, colonists throughout the New World who often fled or were relocated there for political reasons, and so on). One of the largest population transfers the world has ever known – the forced migration of African slaves to the Americas and Europe – was a vast trade of forced labor, but even this particular process stands far apart from the current labor-centric context: it was perceived and treated more as an exchange of “goods” than a migration flow involving social and cultural dimensions. Only later did the descendants of the African slave trade slowly become part of the social fabric of the societies they were forcibly relocated to, often after bitter conflicts that profoundly marked the societies confronted with the humanity of their former chattels.


  • employment and unemployment;
  • labor;
  • demography and population studies;
  • labor supply;
  • political economy;
  • colonialism;
  • capitalism