12/06/05 - the history of immigration

In today's excerpt - a framework for the major recent trends in immigration shows that Europe has only recently been confronted with the systemic challenges of large-scale assimilation that the U.S. has become adept at over a period of many generations:

"Like many birds, but unlike most other mammals, humans are a migratory species.  Indeed, migration is as old as humanity itself. ...

"The modern history of migration can be divided roughly into four periods. During the mercantile period, from 1500 to 1800, world immigration was dominated by flows out of Europe and stemmed from processes of colonization and economic growth under mercantile capitalism.  Over the course of 300 years, Europeans inhabited large portions of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania ... the outflow was sufficient to establish Europe's dominion over large parts of the world. ...

"The second, industrial period of emigration begins early in the nineteenth century and stemmed from the economic development of Europe and the spread of industrialism to former colonies of the New World.  From 1800 to 1925, more than 48 million left the industrializing countries of Europe in search of new lives ... 85 percent went to just five destinations: Argentina, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, with the latter receiving 60 per cent all by itself. ...

"The period of large-scale European emigration faltered with the outbreak of the First World War, which brought European emigration to an abrupt halt and ushered in a four-decade period of limited migration. ...

"The period of post-industrial migration emerged during the 1960's and constituted a sharp break with the past [and] ... immigration became a truly global phenomenon, ... emigration from Africa, Asia and Latin America has increased dramatically. ... The variety of destination countries has also grown. ... Countries throughout Western Europe now [for the first time] attract(ing) significant numbers of immigrants—notably Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands."


Douglas S. Massey, et. al.


Worlds in Motion: Understanding International Migration at the End of the Millenium


Oxford University Press


Copyright 1998 by IUSSP


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