I'm trying to pinpoint (if it even is specific) the opportunities that people will leave everything in order to have.

At first I thought this happens when people move far away to go to college, or to accept a job offer. Those both offer the same opportunity: more wealth. But what really interests me are the entire waves of immigration, and how they seem to have the same motivating factor: the California Gold Rush for example.

But there have been all kinds of groups of immigrants. Pilgrims to the New World, Mormon settlers to Mexican Territory, refugees from wars, Italians to Argentina, groups of Jews have immigrated to various parts of the world, and many other significant waves of immigration- considering all of those, immigration waves included a wide variety of people.

Is there still a common thread across almost all groups? Is there a specific type of opportunity that almost every group of immigrants wants? (This is assuming the group of immigrants had a common thread and prevalent opportunity among themselves, maybe that's not even true. And I'm not saying immigrants always grouped to one location, but I'd like to focus on just those stories.)

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    You should specify what time and period. For example, obviously European immigrants to the New World during the Age of Sail were looking for very different things from an American looking for European job offers. – Semaphore Dec 12 '15 at 6:26
  • Yeah, @Semaphore, so I want to keep it broad and just know whether there was a common thread in almost all immigration groups, and a common prevalent opportunity. So you're saying there was not. Could you expound some details on how the prevalent opportunity and the and the common thread was different for different groups of immigrants and make that an answer for me? – user15650 Dec 12 '15 at 19:51
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    Also @Semaphore, thanks for the question edit. I was having a real hard time expressing my question, and this wording is way better. – user15650 Dec 12 '15 at 20:03
  • You might be looking at it the wrong way around. The most pressing question is what pushes people to leave their home (not a specialist but I have heard that unemployment/lack of opportunity is much more important than poverty per se, for example). Once the will to leave is there, opportunities, existing networks, cost of passage, how welcoming potential destinations are perceived to be, language, etc. will determine where people go. – Relaxed Dec 14 '15 at 8:57
  • Until very late in the game, the answer to this question was 'the opportunity to get and own land'. Land was the sure, reliable wealth universally until quite late in history. – Oldcat Dec 17 '15 at 0:22