Internal Migration and its Impact on Big Cities


The word ‘migration’ derived from the Latin word ‘migrane’ means to change one’s residence but by current definition “ Migration is a form of geographical mobility or spatial mobility between one geographical unit and another, generally involving a change in residence from the place of origin or the place of departure to a place of destination or a place of arrival. Such migration is called permanent migration and should be distinguished from other forms of movement which do not involve a permanent change of residence”. (UN, 1956)[1]

Migration has continued under the form of both voluntary migration within one’s region, country, or beyond and involuntary migration (which includes the slave trade, trafficking in human beings, and ethnic cleansing). People who migrate into a territory are called immigrants, while at the departure point they are called emigrants.

According to International Organization for Migration, “no universally accepted definition for (migrant) exists. The term migrant was usually understood to cover all cases where the decision to migrate was taken freely by the individual concerned for reasons of “personal convenience” and without the intervention of an external compelling factor.


This paper briefly highlights the problem of internal migration and its impacts on big cities. Internal migration to urban regions and big cities is good for promoting the growth of industries and development in the economy. The other side of this migration result in the encouragement of negative impacts on the big cities as well because of the high density of population in relation to the limited civic amenities. It is a common observation that more urbanization is an indicator of high pressure on the urban amenities as well as an increase in crime ratio, besides environmental, cultural, and political problems.

Statement of the Problem

Broadly, there are two types of migration i.e. internal and external migration. We will discuss only the internal aspect of migration and its impacts on big cities. The main issue to be discussed is that as to how internal migration affects the economic, social, educational, etc. situation. We will try to locate a suitable answer to the above problem.

Scope and Significance

The demography of Pakistan indicates that its population is rapidly going towards urbanization with an average rate of 4% per annum since 1951. People move from rural to urban areas in search of places more appropriate for working and living and likewise other motivation factors behind it. According to the Population Census of 1998, the urban population was recorded as 43 million which rose to an estimate of 63.1 million in 2010. Given the shortage of resources and facilities in the urban areas, the absorption of such a huge number of migrants and providing them with facilities of housing, food, employment, healthcare, education, etc. is becoming a difficult task for the administration.

The study of the topic is of significant importance for the planners to meet the urban challenges of good governance, law & order, infrastructure, services, economy, sustainability, etc. arising out of rapid internal migration.

Research Methodology

Data and material is the basis for all kinds of research. Collecting good quality of data play a vital role for the problem under study so as to have an understanding of the problem and hence obtain a proper solution for it. Tools of correct data used for developing this paper was obtained from secondary sources, mostly from various books, newspapers, journals, reports, briefs available on the subject.

While there is no database specifically designed to study internal migration in Pakistan, there is, however the Population Census 1998” which throw light on the internal migration.

Population Census 1998: The Pakistan Population Census defines a migrant as one who is not born in the district of residence. It also provides information on the entire population rather than on a randomly drawn sample. The Census also provides data on inter- and intra-provincial migration and rural-urban migration. A major drawback of the Census is that only aggregated data at the level of an administrative unit (district) are available. This implies that one cannot directly link different characteristics of the basic unit (individual or household), and cross-tabulations are limited to those provided by the Census reports.

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