Human Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 775–776 | Cite as

The Drivers of Immigration in Contemporary Society: Unequal Distribution of Resources and Opportunities

  • Mark Patrick TaylorEmail author

This essay considers the environmental implications associated with immigration and population growth and focuses on the influx of people into the United States across the Mexican border. Most forms of immigration (legal and illegal) are driven by the same essential desires and needs: resources, security, and perceived opportunities and have been ongoing since modern Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa some 60,000 years ago. The development of hunting skills and subsequently farming technologies along with a cultural ability to adapt readily to diverse climates enabled humans to expand their numbers while concomitantly exploiting new territories (see Davis 1974, for an early and succinct discussion).

The migration of populations into new habitats frequently generates its own environmental problems and this is particularly true of human migration (Hinrichsen and Robey 2000). In Australia for example, the arrival of humans some 40,000 years ago was likely the cause of a significant...


Land Subsidence Illegal Immigrant Basic Life Support Soil Erosion Rate United States Census Bureau 
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The Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Santa Cruz, is gratefully acknowledged for its support during the author’s sabbatical study in 2006, where the idea for this essay was conceived. Julie Bramlet is thanked for her patient discussions along with the anonymous referee who provided some useful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical GeographyMacquarie University ∼ SydneySydneyAustralia

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