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Predicting Migration: The

Gravity Model and Ravenstein



 Today we will be able to identify how geographers

predict the size and destination of migration flows.
Distance on Migration

 Distance Decay – The

tendency for migration,
or any other spatial
interaction, to decrease
with distance.
 Distance creates more
drag or friction on
 People are unlikely to
move to faraway places
they know little about.
Migration Streams
 When groups migrate, they
tend to move in well-defined
channels from specific origins
to specific destinations.
 They result from information
flows between origins and
 Letters, telephone calls, return
visits from individuals.
 Earlier migrants assist
newcomers with employment,
housing, and adjustment.
 A migration counterstream is
the flow of people back to
their place of origin
Examples of Migration Streams in the United
 New York and New Jersey to
 The midwestern states and
 Employment migration
 Immigration to United States
from nations of origin to
immigrant communities or
 Familiar language, food,
music, and religious
 Cuba to Florida
 Mexico to southwest
 Ireland to Boston
Can we predict migrant flows?
 Why is it important to
make migration
 Important in making
accurate population
projections and monitoring
regional economic health
an quality of life.
 Some predictions merely
look at past migration
 Looking at the geography
of migration can give us a
more detailed look.
The Gravity Model

 Based off of Isaac

Newton’s formula for
gravitational attraction
between two celestial
 Newton’s law has been
adapted to the social
sciences to estimate the
spatial interaction or
movement between any
two places.
 William J. Reilly, 1931
Example of Migration to California
Share Your Findings

 Share your findings from the Gravity Model Lab with

your shoulder partner.
 Be prepared to share with the class.
Ravenstein’s Laws of Migration

1. Every migration flow generates a return or counter-

2. The majority of migrants move a short distance
3. Migrants who move longer distances tend to choose big-city
4. Urban residents are less migratory than inhabitants of rural
5. Families are less likely to make international moves than
young adults
• An inverse relationship between the volume of migration
and the distance between source and destination
• The number of migrants to a destination declines as the distance they
must travel increases.
Other Key Ideas

 Step migration – The series of stages that migrants go

through to reach a final destination.
 Rural Brazil to a village to a town to Rio de Janeiro.
 Chain Migration – Flows along and through kinship
 Immigration Waves – Swells in the number of migrants
to a destination
 Intervening Opportunity – Opportunities along the
migration stream which may keep the mogrant from
actually reaching the final destination.
 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) – People displaved
within their own country
 Katrina