Human migration is the movement by people from one place to another with the intentions of settling, permanently or temporarily in a new location. The movement is often over long distances and from one country to another, but internal migration is also possible; indeed, this is the dominant form globally. People may migrate as individuals, in family units or in large groups.A person who moves from their home because of natural disaster or civil disturbance may be described as a refugee or, especially within the same country, a displaced person. A person seeking refuge from political, religious, or other forms of persecution is usually described as an asylum seeker. The distinction between involuntary (fleeing political conflict or natural disaster) and voluntary migration (economic or labor migration) is difficult to make and partially subjective, as the motivators for migration are often correlated. The World Bank estimated that, as of 2010, 16.3 million or 7.6% of migrants qualified as refugees. This number grew to 19.5 million or 7.9% of all migrants by 2014.At levels of roughly 3 percent the share of migrants among the world population has remained remarkably constant over the last 5 decades.Nomadic movements are normally not regarded as migrations as the movement is generally seasonal, there is no intention to settle in the new place, and only a few people have retained this form of lifestyle in modern times. Temporary movement for the purpose of travel, tourism, pilgrimages, or the commute is also not regarded as migration, in the absence of an intention to live and settle in the visited places.

Structurally, there is substantial South-South and North-North migration, i.e., most emigrants from high-income OECD countries migrate to other high-income countries, and a substantial part (estimated at 43%) of emigrants from developing countries migrate to other developing countries. The United Nations Population Fund says that "while the North has experienced a higher absolute increase in the migrant stock since 2000 (32 million) compared to the South (25 million), the South recorded a higher growth rate. Between 2000 and 2013 the average annual rate of change of the migrant population in developing regions (2.3%) slightly exceeded that of the developed regions (2.1%)."

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