People are freely migrating animals. We change cities, countries and sometimes continents in which we live in and it is so easy that we don‘t even think about moving that much anymore. But not all people migrate equally. Scientists from UCL found that people from smaller cities with populations smaller than 100,000 migrate more than those from big cities with populations of more than ten million.
Living in a big city has its advantages and it seems like people are very much interested in them. If people from big cities do migrate, they typically move to cities of the same or greater size. Meanwhile residents of smaller cities usually move to big ones searching for opportunities. This is not just some interesting facts. Policy makers have to take into account migration patterns when thinking about future. These discoveries are showing that migration is likely to make big cities grow even larger and smaller ones shrink in size.
Migrating people is not necessarily a negative phenomenon. People from smaller towns can benefit economies of large cities tremendously. They can enhance these cities with their knowledge and skills, while at the same time potentially earn more money and create a better wellbeing for themselves. However, policy makers have to make sure that these people integrate into the new society well and can take full advantage of living in a city without causing any problems. Segregation, inequality and loneliness have to be addressed as well. It is important to note that this study only looked into domestic migration – international migration follows different patterns.
Scientists considered a settlement a city only if it had more than 50,000 residents. This research was done in USA, because of the large area and a big number of huge cities. Scientists say that domestic migration in this case follows a scaling model, which is a mathematical formula, explaining migration patterns through the sizes of home and destination cities. Professor Steven Bishop, one of the authors of the study, said: “The model can be used to more accurately predict population movement as it corrects biases which occur in other methods. This is an important, data-led development in revealing how communities and regions will grow and develop in the future”.
But what is that future? Well, large cities are likely to keep growing, attracting the most skilled and ambitious people. We are yet to see if that is going to damage societies in smaller cities and rural areas.