3.6: The Future of Human Movement and Conclusion
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The future dynamics of migration are very difficult to predict, but certain geographic realities provide clues for where patterns are likely to change. In those parts of the world where societies are quickly aging and fertility rates continue to decline, we can expect rates of immigration to increase. Certain countries have experienced and will continue to experience dramatic population decline (most notably Germany, Italy, Russia, and Japan), and the demand for young, workingaged immigrants will certainly continue to draw more people to those places. Japan and China represent unique cases because both are aging and yet have been resistant to allowing outsiders to become citizens or permanent residents. In spite of cultural preferences for ethnic homogeneity, it would seem likely that the culture will shift and become more accepting of outsiders, as the country needs them to take care of the elderly, pay taxes, and provide an infusion of energy into the respective countries.
Meanwhile, people living in places without sufficient opportunities will continue to move away in search of jobs and better circumstances, regardless of the attempts made by wealthy nations to keep them out. Source countries and destinations will continue to shift, as they always have. More Mexicans have returned than have left the US in recent years, and it is no longer the leading sending source country of migration to the US. Rather, more people are now coming from Central America. The demographic pressures in many African countries will absolutely drive more working-aged people out of the continent in search of better opportunities even as the journey becomes increasingly dangerous. As the Internet becomes more pervasive on that continent, more people will find the information that they need in order to plan their emigration. Finally, the highly-skilled people of the world will continue to be increasingly mobile and largely unaffected by borders or increased security. Computer programmers, nurses, doctors, engineers, and high-tech workers of all sorts will use the globe to their advantage and seek out places that best fit their desires. Television shows like “House Hunters International” demonstrate how the vast numbers of people who work online or in highly-skilled careers can virtually live anywhere. Wealthy people from across the globe are leaving their passport countries by the millions, as Wi-Fi networks are now available across the world. The poor and wealthy alike will continue to move about the planet, reconstituting the human geography of our world well into the twenty-first century but for very different reasons and with very different experiences.