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Keywords:

  • internal migration;
  • international migration;
  • development;
  • mobility linkages;
  • Asian populations

Abstract

This paper examines the linkages between systems of internal migration and systems of international migration in the Asian region. In the context of changing global patterns of international migration on the one hand and urbanisation on the other, the paper briefly examines the evolution of two different traditions in migration research and policy: those concerned with international and those concerned with internal migration. Recognising that there is some blurring in any distinction between the two types of migration, the paper hypothesises that there are sufficient differences between the two systems to warrant separate identification. Although both can operate simultaneously, the paper goes on to posit two scenarios: that internal migration can lead to international migration; and that international migration can lead to internal migration. Evidence from various parts of South and East Asia is employed to examine the validity of these statements.

There is no single evolutionary path, and examples of both scenarios are found in Asia. The concentration of populations in urban areas can give rise to later international movements, but these international migrations themselves, by creating vacuums in areas of origin, can in turn generate internal migration. The history of colonial contact, too, can initiate international migration from particular areas, not necessarily just urban, which give rise to later internal movements. Internal and international migrations are integrated and it is necessary to consider them as a unified system rather than in isolation. The hierarchical movements link richer and poorer groups together and need to be understood in the context of the implementation of programmes of poverty alleviation. By attempting to link internal and international migration, this paper is a small step towards the creation of a more integrated framework for the study of population movement. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.