The biggest difference between voluntary and forced migration is the reason for the movement: whether or not there was a push or a pull. When describing the movement of different ethnic groups, it can be difficult to determine whether or not the migration was voluntary or forced.Voluntary Migration
Voluntary migration is the movement of people into a new region by their own choice. People will migrate generally because the new place has pull factors that motivated their movement. Around 1850, there was a Chinese migration because of the Immigration Agents Gold Rush in California. The Chinese immigrants wanted to become prosperous in the United States and then return to their homeland in China.
Similar to the Chinese, during the 19th century, there was an Arab migration seeking economic prosperity. This pattern continues to occur, as many people from Central and South America continue to emigrate from their home countries to come to the United States in hopes of economical stability.
Forced migration is the movement of people into a new region for reasons other than their own choice. The migration is set into motion because of push factors, forcing people to move. One of the most powerful forced migrations was that of the African Americans during the days of the Triangle Trade.
These people had no choice in their relocation because they were kidnapped and sold into slavery. The majority of other forced migrations are for reason of turmoil in their homeland. Problems could be anywhere between physical (Nazi Germany), environmental (Louisiana and Hurricane Katrina), political (Middle Eastern Arabs in the second wave), economical (Irish), or even religious persecution.
The Fine Line between Forced and Voluntary Migration
Some migrations could be classified under both voluntary and forced migration. This is because not all migrations are solely dependent of push or pull factors. When describing most of the forced migrations (excluding the African American migration), there are usually some pull factors as well as push. This is because although they have a push out of their country, there was a choice or pull towards the specific country they chose.
Voluntary migrations are more difficult to define because a lot of movements have push factors in addition to their pull factor that motivated their move. For example, the Chinese migration, previously mentioned, had certain push factors. China was having serious problems including: political anarchy, famine, and economic crisis. This is why when classifying migrations, it is necessary to determine which factors had the strongest influence on peoples decisions.
The Triangle Trade
The Chinese Movement to California