Standard Article

Return migration

Migration A–Z


  1. Glen Peterson

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm453

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Peterson, G. 2013. Return migration. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Prior to the 1960s, there was hardly any mention at all of return migration in the vast literature on human migration. Studies of migration often proceeded as if the phenomenon of return migration never occurred. Migration was viewed as a one-way process beginning with “uprooting” at the point of origin and ending with “assimilation” into one's adopted culture and country. This notion of migration as a unidirectional process was greatly influenced by the dominance of nation-based categories of analysis in which people were identified by the national groupings to which they formally belonged. In fact, return migration is a common feature of most human migrations. For instance, it has been estimated that “at least” one-third of the 52 million Europeans who emigrated from Europe between 1824 and 1924 eventually returned permanently to their original homelands (Wyman 2005: 16).


  • immigration;
  • labor supply;
  • labor;
  • poverty;
  • International Law