My next step to further explore the concept of “home” was to look at the actual reasons people migrate.

Migration can be divided into four major categories:

Economic migration: when people move to find work or follow a particular career path. In many cases migrating people leave their families behind and move to earn money. It might be that less qualified people go only for seasonal jobs and more qualified look for medical or educational jobs.

A good example can be UK: a lot of Eastern Europeans emigrated to UK after entering EU in 2004 and 2007. Parents left their children behind in home countries and moved for work. Money transfers to home countries increased immensely and children moved to their parents in the next few years (some even without graduating high schools).

Social migration: moving somewhere for a better quality of life or to be closer to family or friends. The same children who move to live with their parents (from the above paragraph) would fall under social migration category. Or someone who got married and migrates to live with their beloved one.

Political migration: moving to escape political persecution or war. These are the people who are forced to flee their homes against their will. They run for safety as well as better life and have to start life in a new place without having much, not even a home. Few examples of such people can be:

  • people who migrated before the WWII. They started from zero and worked very hard to build their life in a new place. Now a lot of them are no longer alive but their children and grandchildren still live where they were born abroad and in many cases, never visited their origin country
  • nowadays refugees: fleeing their home countries that are tormented by war (Sudan, Syria just to name a few). They don’t have a lot of possessions and live in refugee camps in their own countries or countries that offered asylum

Environmental migration: moving because of natural disasters such as flooding, sea level rising, earthquakes, climate change, etc. There is an estimate that in the next 50 years around 1b people will be forced to leave their homes because of the environmental issues.

It’s interesting to take a closer look at why people migrate (from embraceni.org):

Pull factors (making people move to other places):

  • travel (international transport cheap)
  • internet makes it easier to access information
  • falling birth rates in developed countries
  • stable democracies with human rights and religious freedoms are respected
  • English speaking
  • better healthcare

Push factors (making people leave their countries):

  • poverty and low income
  • lack of prospects for career advancement
  • high unemployment rates
  • persecution and poor human rights
  • war / civil war
  • natural disasters, climate change, famine

The same BBC very nicely show the major migration trends since 1918:

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Key migration paths 1918-nowadays. Source: BBC UK

What’s not being shown here is another migration trend from post Soviet countries after 1990 (again to USA), Eastern European migration in 2004-2008 to UK and Ireland and the current refugee crisis. Of course, I’m mostly familiar with my own region and what’s there on the media, so it doesn’t mean that there weren’t other migration trends in recent times.

What are the best ways to reach migrating people?

Let’s look at each of the categories again.

Economic migrants: through their families in home countries, social media, local expat neighbourhoods where they live (have heard not once that migrants form their own almost ghettoes and spend time only among their nationality people without any intention to integrate into new home country — this is probably more common to migrants who come for low qualification jobs). The best way to reach people who come for high quality jobs is probably social media or through embassy / consulate outreach channels.

Political migrants: Older expats who migrated a long time ago (before WWII) can be reached through expat communities at their own events and gatherings, expat newspapers, church. They tend to be in groups and foster a very strong relationship and sense of support to their home country.

To reach refugees is best to go through refugee camps and nonprofits taking care of them. Good way to involve them into conversation would be to organize events rather than through Internet and social media.

Social migrants: through expat organizations, Internet and social media, through families.

One category that wasn’t mentioned and I think it’s especially valid today is migration just because people can.  I dare to call these people global citizens: the world is their home and reasons why they move can sometimes be beyond regular person’s comprehension, so to say every one of them probably has his/her own reasons.

The best way to reach such people are, of course, through Internet and social media. Looking for them through country specific communities might be a mistake as a lot of them belong to various country and nationality not specific communities, so can also be found at topic specific meetups, organizations, and so on. Moving around the world can be taken as the way of living rather than one specific reason.

I believe that global citizens at the moment is the most interesting group to look at for my research. In the next post I will be defining user personas within this group and try to do some design mapping for their possible experiences.

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