Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am grateful for the opportunity to address you here today.
International migration often provokes strong emotional reactions. The Population Division plays a crucial role in providing accurate, timely and unbiased information to the international community about the many facets of migration, including its links to the process of social and economic development.
Member States of the United Nations and other stakeholders have made repeated calls for an improved evidence base on international migration. The Population Division has worked hard to respond to this demand.
I would like to acknowledge the work of the Migration Section within the Population Division. The Section is headed by Mr. Bela Hovy. He and his team have worked tirelessly to bring you the data and analysis we are presenting today.
The data come from our recent publication, Trends in International Migration: The 2013 Revision. This publication is currently available through the worldwide web. It includes global estimates of the number of international migrants, defined in most cases as persons who are living outside their country of birth.
These estimates have been produced for 232 countries or areas of the world. They cover the years 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2013. Notably, the estimates in this series have been fully disaggregated by age, sex and country of origin and destination.
In this brief overview, I would like to highlight some of the major trends that we have uncovered in our analysis of this new dataset.
More people than ever are living abroad. According to our latest estimates, the
number of international migrants worldwide has reached 232 million in 2013, up from
175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990. About 6 of every 10 international migrants
are living in the developed regions, or the global North. In total, these migrants
number 136 million, compared to 96 million living in the global South.
Worldwide, international migrants account for a small share of the total population. Although the number of international migrants worldwide has been steadily increasing, they only account for about three per cent of the total population. In the developed countries, however, migrants account for about 11 per cent of the total population, compared to less than 2 per cent in the developing world.
The effects of migration are much broader than these percentages suggest, since many people who do not migrate are also impacted by migration.
Overall, Europe and Asia host the largest numbers of international migrants, with 72 million residing in Europe and 71 million in Asia. Together, they account for nearly two-thirds of all international migrants worldwide.
Yet, international migrants are highly concentrated in just ten countries. The largest number of international migrants is living in the United States (46 million, or 20 per cent of the world’s total) followed by the Russian Federation (11 million), Germany (10 million) and Saudi Arabia (9 million).
Migrants by age and sex
Most international migrants are of working age — from 20 to 64 years old — numbering
171 million and accounting for three quarters of the total migrant population. This
share is significantly higher than for the general population, where the proportion
of people in the working age range stands at 58 per cent.
Since most migrants are of working age, young migrants, those under age 20, are generally underrepresented among all international migrants. In addition, children born to foreign-born parents are not counted as international migrants in many countries. As a consequence, children only account for 15 per cent of the global migrant population, compared to 35 per cent for the total population.
Older migrants — those above age 65 — represent about 11 per cent of all migrants in the world. Many older migrants have been living in their countries of destination for decades. In developed countries, the number of older migrants has increased from 11 million in 1990 to 18 million in 2013.
Roughly half of all international migrants are women. Yet, there are considerable differences across regions. Whereas 52 per cent of all migrants in the North are women, they account for only 43 per cent in the South. Historic destinations of international migrants, such as Europe and the Americas, generally host higher proportions of women. Male migrants, however, significantly outnumber female migrants in Asia and Africa, where migration is often of shorter duration, and where the living and working conditions favour men over women.
Migrants by origin and destination
Our new estimates track movements of individuals between countries, recording both
the country of origin and the country of destination. Our estimates reveal that
South-to-South movements were the most common form of migration around 1990. The
data also show that, since around the year 2000, migration from South to North has
become as common as migration between countries of the global South.
Today, in 2013, about 82.3 million international migrants who were born in developing countries are now living as migrants in other countries of the South. This number is only slightly higher than the 81.9 million international migrants who originated in the South but are now living in the North.
From 1990 to 2000, most of the growth in the number of international migrants was driven by rising levels of South-to-North migration. Since 2000, however, both South North and South-South migration have accounted for about 40 per cent of the growth in the global population of foreign-born persons. Thus, most international migrants originate in developing countries, but in recent years they have been settling in almost equal numbers in the developed and the developing regions.
Overall, Asians represent the largest diaspora group residing outside their major area of birth. They account for about 19 million foreign-born persons living in Europe, 16 million in Northern America and 3 million in Oceania. Migrants born in Latin America and the Caribbean represent the second largest diaspora group, with the majority living in Northern America, especially the United States.
Some countries of Southern and Western Asia host large populations of international migrants from neighbouring countries. In 2013, for example, we estimate that 3.2 million international migrants from Bangladesh are residing in India. Another prominent example is migrants from Afghanistan, mostly refugees, who live in neighbouring countries: there are around 2.3 million Afghanis in Pakistan and a similar number in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The oil producing countries of Western Asia host many foreign-born individuals from Southern Asia: we estimate that there are around 2.9 million persons born in India who are now living in the United Arab Emirates, with another 1.8 million in Saudi Arabia.
The world’s largest corridor of international migration is between the United States of America and Mexico. Our estimates indicate that the United States is hosting some 13 million persons who were born in Mexico. Germany and France host the largest immigrant communities within Europe. About 1.5 million persons born in Turkey reside in Germany: many of these migrants came to Germany under the guest worker programmes of the 1960s and 1970s and then opted to stay. In France, there are some 1.5 million international migrants from Algeria, a former French colony.
Refugees account for a relatively small proportion of the global migrant population, numbering 15.7 million or around seven per cent of all international migrants in 2013. Nearly nine of every ten refugees in the world live in developing regions. Asia hosts the largest number of refugees (10.4 million) followed by Africa (2.9 million) and Europe (1.5 million).
The 2013 High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development
The United Nations General Assembly, for the second time in its history, will convene
a High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development. This event will
take place from 3 to 4 October 2013. Its purpose is to identify concrete measures
to strengthen coherence and cooperation at all levels, with a view to enhancing
the benefits of international migration for migrants and countries alike and its
important links to development, while reducing its negative implications.
The High-level Dialogue presents an opportunity for Member States, civil society and the international community to advance the debate on international migration and development, and to promote concrete actions to improve the lives of migrants and to enhance the benefits of migration for countries of origin and destination.
I think everyone agrees that data and research are essential for evidence-based policy-making and informed public debate. We are convinced that these new data will inform the ongoing debate about international migration and guide Member States in their deliberations and future actions.
Let me finish by mentioning the Population Division’s website devoted to international
migration, www.unmigration.org, where you can find a wealth of detailed information,
including this statement, the press release, a wall chart, three fact sheets and
a link to an online database containing detailed country-by-country statistics.
I thank you for your interest, and I would welcome any questions you may have at this time.