The “Laws” of Return Migration

Part of the Publications of the Research Group for European Migration Problems book series (REMP, volume 20)


The study of return migration started by the recognition of its very existence. In the famous list of migration laws by Ravenstein (1885, 1889) the fourth law states that: “Each main current of migration produces a compensating counter-current” (Ravenstein, 1885, p. 33). Return migration is recognized as one component of this counter-current. In later statistical studies of migration, the existence of this counter-current is demonstrated again and again. D.S. Thomas (1938) gives an interesting appendix containing migration-literature that is not now readily available and in which the occurrence of return migration is often demonstrated in relation to economic crises. Ter Heide (1965) proved the appearance of such counter-migration-flows in Holland, Hollingsworth (1971) did the same for Scotland. Blau & Duncan (1967) investigated the occupational careers of no less than 20.000 Americans and in their analysis they point in passing the importance of return migrants of high occupational status. Eldridge (1965) and Wen Lang Li (1970) developed a statistical instrument to measure and predict the volume of “reverse streams”.


Internal Migration Empirical Application Return Migration Migration Model Migrant History 
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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1974

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