Difference Between Migration and Exodus (With Table)

Migration and exodus are two terms that have very different meanings. Since both are based on the occurrence of movement or relocation of people, they are often confused with one another. Nevertheless, both have had a major influence on world history. Therefore, understanding how they differ from each other is important.

Migration vs Exodus

The difference between migration and exodus is that migration refers to a group or individual casually moving from one place to another. The phenomenon can be temporary, permanent, voluntary, or even forced. On the other hand, exodus refers to fleeing or escaping slavery, persecution or even death. It is a permanent event of mass relocation.

A person or group may intend to migrate to a new location for several reasons. These are typically general in nature and may include employment opportunities, better standard of living, natural resources and much more. The relocation may take place within a country or outside the country. However, there may be other circumstances that force someone to migrate as well. 

On the other hand, an exodus is not as casual as the former. Such an event occurs when a large group of people intend to move to a new location in order to avoid a predicament. The movement is somewhat forced as there are not many options other than absconding. Exodus is often associated with liberation from bondage.

Comparison Table Between Migration and Exodus

Parameters of ComparisonMigrationExodus
MeaningMigration refers to moving or relocating from one place to another.Exodus refers to fleeing from a country.
CauseThe causes are generally casual and may include employment opportunities or better resources.It is done to avoid predicaments such as slavery, persecution or even death.
ScaleIt could involve an individual, family or even a large group.It involves families and large groups.
SpanThe movement can be sudden or gradual.The movement is typically sudden.
NatureThe relocation can be temporary, permanent, voluntary, or forced.The relocation is permanent and somewhat forced.

What is Migration?

Migration is a phenomenon or event when a person, family or group moves from one place to another. The cause for doing so is generally casual. It may include search for better resources, healthcare, job opportunities and even standard of living. The relocation may be temporary, permanent, depending on the people.

People generally migrate voluntarily. However, there are many circumstances that may force a person to move out of their native home. These may include politics, religion and many other social situations. The movement may take place internally within a country, or externally, outside the country.

Interestingly, migration also includes exodus. Certain forms of the event include conquest, invasion and colonization. In such cases, the displacement is mostly forced, and the people involved are called displaced persons. An opportunity to return to the home country may or may not exist in such cases. Various programs and NGOs are built for such people across the globe.

Nowadays, migration governance is majorly based on state sovereignty. This means that the government of an area has the authority to decide whether or not people from another place can enter and stay. The phenomenon directly influences many aspects of the working of a state. Therefore, the decision is often very complicated.

What is Exodus?

The term ‘Exodus’ is derived from the Greek word ‘exodos’ which means ‘exit or departure’. It is an event of large groups of people fleeing from one place to avoid predicaments such as slavery, persecution or even death. The displacement is somewhat forced as the predicament is brought upon them by others. However, the decision of leaving the country is taken by the people themselves.

People in exodus generally do not have the opportunity of returning to their native country. The relocation is permanent and irreversible. There is not much planning involved as adverse circumstances occur without warning. Unlike casual migration, which can happen gradually, exodus happens in haste as people choose to abscond the situation as soon as possible.

A refuge is a form of an exodus. This happens when people choose to flee a country due to war, politics or social circumstances. The people involved in the situation are termed, refugees. Several countries offer different forms of help to them. For example, a country may be willing to offer them citizenship and even housing, considering how helpless they may be in the situation.

However, an exodus is not the same as exile and cannot be used interchangeably with it. Exile is an event in which someone is forced to leave the country because of not following the law. However, in exodus, fleeing the country is the only option for the people to save themselves from the situation.

Main Differences Between Migration and Exodus

  1. Migration refers to moving or relocation from one place to another whereas exodus refers to fleeing from a country.
  2. The cause of migration is generally casual whereas exodus is done to avoid predicaments.
  3. Migration may involve an individual, family or even large groups whereas exodus generally involves families and large groups.
  4. Migration may be sudden or gradual whereas exodus is sudden.
  5. In migration, the relocation may be temporary, permanent, voluntary or forced whereas, in exodus, the relocation is permanent and somewhat forced.


Migration and exodus are somewhat related but have certain key differences between them. It can be inferred that migration has various forms, out of which exodus is one. However, in general, the term migration is used to refer to the casual movement from one place to another. On the other hand, exodus refers to fleeing from a country to avoid a predicament.

A major distinguishing factor between the two is that migration may involve an individual, family or a large group of people. It may be done over a span of time or even suddenly in some cases. On the other hand, exodus refers to the mass movement of people that takes place suddenly. The underlying causes of relocation account for this.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=4QtuAAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=difference+between+migration+and+exodus&ots=T5pXZz6GhC&sig=u5xDrt_EzML9wtwc63gc2ddgids
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/019791838501900101
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