What Are the Causes and Effects of Immigration?

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The causes and effects of immigration are many and vary tremendously. Immigration can be voluntary, in which an immigrant seeks better opportunities or simply chooses to live in another country, or involuntary, either because of a crisis or forced removal by an outside force. Immigration has potentially profound economic, social and political impacts for both the countries of origin and those of destination.

The most common voluntary reason for immigration is seeking employment or economic opportunities not available in the home country. Wealthy or educated immigrants with assets or valuable skills may immigrate simply because they prefer the climate, politics, laws or social conventions of another country.

Immigrants may flee their home countries involuntarily due to religious, social or political persecution and apply for asylum or refugee status in another country. Immigrants may also flee, or be driven from, countries that are at war or have experienced a serious natural disaster.

Immigration has a wide range of effects on both the host country and the country of origin. The economy of the host country can benefit from the cheap labor, or be hurt when immigrants work for illegal wages, fostering social and political resentment toward them. The social and political landscape of the host country can be significantly altered as well. The country of origin may experience negative economic impacts, such as a shortage of skilled workers.