International migration in the last half century is often characterised as following an inexorable upward trend that can only be stemmed by tougher immigration policies in the rich OECD. This view fails to pay sufficient attention to the supply-side forces that drive emigration from poor to rich countries. European mass migrations before 1914 suggest that emigration typically traces out what is sometimes called the 'migration hump' and what we call an 'emigration life cycle'. This paper examines the forces that underlay the mass migration from pre-1914 Europe and compares them with the experience since 1970. Despite the great importance of restrictive immigration policy today, we find the same forces at work in poor source countries today as a century ago. Our results also suggest that, contrary to popular belief, emigration pressure from the Third World is beginning to ease.