6.6G: Economic Causes of Migration

cash (2)

AP Theme

Economic Systems

Learning Objective 6G

Explain how various economic factors contributed to the development of varied patterns of migration from 1750 to 1900.

Historical Development 1

Many individuals chose freely to relocate, often in search of work.

Historical Development 2

The new global capitalist economy continued to rely on coerced and semi coerced labor migration, including enslavement Chinese and Indian indentured servitude, and convict labor.


Global powers influenced export economies

Export economies formed in both independent nations and colonized nations. The power of colonizers over the economy of colonized peoples is obvious. However, even in independent nations, transnational corporations and the governments of industrial nations had significant influence over government and economic decision-making of less powerful export economies.

Banana republics

The term banana republic describes a politically unstable country with an economy dependent upon exporting one or a few products, such as bananas or minerals. Powerful foreign businesses usually control banana republics for the benefit of the company. American writer O Henry created the term in 1904 to describe Honduras and neighboring countries exploited by U.S. corporations, such as the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita Brands International).

Features of banana republics 

  • Foreign corporations often have great power over government and economic systems. 
  • Foreign corporations and interests use bribes to buy politicians. 
  • When local populations protest, leaders side with foreign business. 
  • When people come to power who attempt to fight foreign business, those business interests attempt to remove them from power through illegal methods. 
  • The state operates as a private commercial enterprise for the exclusive profit of the ruling class.

Economic Production and Labor Systems in Colonial and Export Economies

For colonized nations and independent export nations, the 19th century continued the production and labor trends that began with the first wave of colonization starting between the 16th and 18th centuries. Cash-crop agriculture and mining were the primary economic activities outside of industrialized nations. Low-wage labor and systems of forced servitude dominated the workforce in colonial and export economies.