Key variables determining the relationship between migration and marriage were demographics, legal policies, cultural perceptions and technology.

However, many consider the term "mail-order bride" derogatory and feel it demeans foreign women by comparing them to commodities for sale and by falsely implying that (unlike local women), they exercise no judgment over the men they meet and would marry anyone from a relatively wealthy country.

There are at least two historical roots of the mail-order bride industry that emerged in the 1800s in the American frontier: Asian workers in the frontier regions (although Asian workers were scattered throughout the world), and American men who had headed west across the United States to work out on the frontier.

A mail-order bride is a woman who lists herself in catalogs and is selected by a man for marriage.

In nineteenth-century America, mail-order brides came from well-developed areas on the Eastern seaboard to marry men in Western frontier lands.

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As a result of this imbalance, a new system of "picture brides" developed in predominantly male settlements.

In the early 20th century, the institution of "picture brides" developed due to immigration restrictions.

Many of these marriage agencies are based near women in developing countries (such as Ukraine, Russia, Colombia, Brazil, China, Thailand, and the Philippines).

International marriage agencies encourage women to register for their services, and facilitate communication and meetings with men from developed regions of North America, Western Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

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