Researching migration and health

Perspectives and debates

Authored by: Frances Darlington-Pollock , Paul Norman , Daniel J. Exeter , Nichola Shackleton

Routledge Handbook of Health Geography

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138098046
eBook ISBN: 9781315104584
Adobe ISBN:


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Population movements have long been associated with the spread of disease. As early as 1690, maps delineating the cordoned-off boundaries of Bari, a province of Italy, are revealing as to the fear that the plague was portable, spread through a mobile population (Koch, 2011). This fear of diseased migrant bodies persists today, with a wide body of research looking for the etiological clues revealed by international migration flows or the broader impacts on the spread of disease (Boyle and Norman, 2009; Gushulak and MacPherson, 2006). However, of particular interest to health geographers is the impact of population movement on spatial inequalities in health (Darlington, Norman and Gould, 2015). This dynamic field of research, a critical discussion of the definitions employed, frameworks applied and methods selected, is overdue. Understanding how such decisions shape perspectives around the relationship between health and migration is important when evaluating debates as to the influence of migration on health inequalities. These debates have a long history, which resonates today in terms of both the conclusions drawn and the methods adopted. This chapter will first look to the history of this field of research, thereby introducing key contemporary studies examining the relationship between (subnational) migration and health. Next, we review the methodological parameters of this body of work before concluding with speculation as to future areas of inquiry within and beyond existing parameters of research.

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