What are Push and Pull Factors?

By Kimutai Gilbert on August 1 2017 in Society

The opportunity of employment is a major pull factor in migration.
The opportunity of employment is a major pull factor in migration.


Push and pull factors in geography refer to the causes of migration among people. The reasons can be social, economic, environmental or political in nature. People migrate from a place because of unsustainable conditions such as insecurity or unemployment - these are referred to as push factors as they drive people away. The factors which attract people to live in a particular environment can include security, employment, political stability and climate. They are referred to as pull factors.

Push factors

This refers to conditions which force people to leave their homes. A person moves because of distress. Migration is triggered by the promise of an easier and more enjoyable life elsewhere. Examples of push factors can include:

  • Unemployment. Often, people leave places where they are less likely to get employment (such as rural areas) and go to urban areas where job opportunities are more plentiful. This factor has been the major reasons cities and towns are highly populated. Individuals leave their homes to search for employment in more industrialized areas.
  • Insecurity. People move away from places that experience terrorism, violence, and high levels of crime. They move in search of peaceful and secure environment.
  • Scarcity of land. People are forced to migrate in search of more land to cultivate and live in. Individuals in need of undertaking extensive agriculture move to less populated areas.
  • Political instability. The effects of politics force people to move out of their homes or even countries, in search of a peaceful environment.
  • Drought and famine. Some communities are nomads in that they move away from their land in periods of severe drought and famine in search of water and food.

Pull factors

Pull factors refer to the factors which attract people to move to a certain area. Examples of pull factors include:

  • Availability of better job opportunities. People seeking employment leave their homes to the places that they can access better opportunities.
  • Religious freedom. There are places in the world where free worship is not protected. People will flee from religious prosecution.
  • Political freedom. People are attracted to governments that exercise democracy as opposed to dictatorship.
  • Fertile land. People interested in farming are attracted by fertile lands.
  • Environmental safety. Places free from environmental hazards like flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes attract a lot of people.

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