Migration as such is not new. Studies by palaeoanthropologists suggest that our human ancestors, and other hominids before them, have been migrating since the earliest times for which we have evidence. More recently, many significant migrations have been recorded: to take just one example, that from Europe to North America in the 19th century. The difference today is the scale and continuous nature of movement of people around the world – and the fact that there are no more ‘empty continents’ for us to occupy.
Widening inequality between high- and low-income countries acts as a strong driver for migration. Migrants hope for a better quality of life by living in a wealthier country, or they may seek to work abroad and send money back to relatives at home. Migration may also be a measure of last resort, in response to deteriorating trade conditions, political persecution, oppression or war. In some instances, migration is due to environmental changes which the peo