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Press briefing

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Statement by Mr. John Wilmoth, Director, Population Division
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations

Wednesday, 11 September 2013, 10.30 a.m.
UN Headquarters, New York


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.

Global trends

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

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.

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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.

International Migration Wallchart 2013

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The Wallchart displays the latest data and information available on international migration, covering topics such as size of the migrant stock, distribution of the migrant stock by age and sex and refugees.

Downloads:

Empirical Data

Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 Revision

Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 Revision provides a comparable and up-to-date set of estimates for all countries and areas of the world.

Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 Revision is comprised of three data sets:

For each of these data sets, estimates are presented for: 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2013. The estimates are based on official statistics on the foreign-born or the foreign population, classified by sex, age and country of origin. Most of the statistics utilised to estimate the international migrant stock were obtained from population censuses. Additionally, population registers and nationally representative surveys provided information on the number and composition of international migrants.

Population Facts No. 2013/2

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The number of international migrants
worldwide reaches 232 millioni

1. The number of international migrants worldwide reaches an all-time high

  • In 2013, the number of international migrants worldwide reached 232 million, up from 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990. Between 1990 and 2000, the international migrant stock grew by an average of 1.2 per cent per year. During the period from 2000 to 2010, the annual growth rate accelerated, reaching 2.3 per cent. Since then, however, it has slowed, falling to around 1.6 per cent per year during the period from 2010 to 2013.
  • In 2013, 136 million international migrants lived in the North, while 96 million resided in the South (Figure 1). Since 1990, the share of international migrants living in the developed regions has increased. In 2013, the Northii hosted 59 per cent of all interna-tional migrants; up from 53 per cent in 1990.
Figure 1: International migrants, 1990-2013 (millions)

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  • Between 1990 and 2013, the North gained a larger number of international migrants compared to the South. Some 2.3 million migrants were added annually in the developed regions, compared to 1 million in the developing regions.
  • Yet since 2000, the migrant stock in the South has been growing more rapidly than in the North. Between 2000 and 2010, the average annual growth rate for migrants in the South was 2.5 per cent per annum. In the North, the annual growth rate was around 2.3 per cent. Since 2010, the annual growth rate has slowed to 1.5 per cent in the developed regions and 1.8 per cent in the developing regions.
  • Worldwide, international migrants account for a small share of the total population. They com-prised about 3.2 per cent of the world population in 2013, compared to 2.9 per cent in 1990.
  • In the North, the proportion of international migrants in total population exceeds that of the South. In 2013 migrants constituted 10.8 per cent of the total population in developed regions compared to 1.6 per cent in developing regions. Between 1990 and 2013, international migrants as a share of total population grew in the North but remained unchanged in the South.

2. Europe and Asia host the largest number of international migrants

  • Europe and Asia combined host nearly two-thirds of all international migrants worldwide. In 2013, 72 million international migrants were residing in Europe, compared to 71 million in Asia. Northern America hosted the third largest number of interna-tional migrants in 2013 (53 million), followed by Africa (19 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (9 million), and Oceania (8 million) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: International migrants by major area, 1990, 2000 and 2013

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  • Since 1990, Northern America recorded the largest gain in the absolute number of interna-tional migrants. Between 1990 and 2013, Northern America added 25 million migrants, equal to 1.1 million additional migrants per year. Europe added the second largest number during this period (23 million or 1 million per year), followed by Asia (21 million or slightly less than 1 million per year).
  • Northern America also experienced the fastest growth in migrant stock. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of international migrants in Northern America grew by an average of 2.8 per cent per year. Oceania recorded the second fastest annual average growth rate in international migrant stock during this period (2.3 per cent), followed by Europe (1.7 per cent).
  • Since 2000, however, Asia added more interna-tional migrants than any other major area. Asia gained some 20 million international migrants between 2000 and 2013, or 1.6 million additional migrants per annum. Europe added the second largest number of international migrants between 2000 and 2013 (16 million or 1.2 million per year), followed by Northern America (13 million or 1 million per year).
  • Since 2000, however, Asia added more interna-tional migrants than any other major area. Asia gained some 20 million international migrants between 2000 and 2013, or 1.6 million additional migrants per annum. Europe added the second largest number of international migrants between 2000 and 2013 (16 million or 1.2 million per year), followed by Northern America (13 million or 1 million per year).
  • In Europe, Northern America and Oceania, the share of migrants in total population has grown rapidly. Oceania, the major area with the highest share of international migrant stock in total popula-tion, saw this figure climb from 17 per cent in 1990 to 21 per cent in 2013. In Northern America the propor-tion of international migrants in the total population reached 15 per cent in 2013 up from 10 per cent in 1990, while in Europe it rose from 7 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent in 2013.
  • In Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, the share of migrants in total popula-tion remains small. In 2013, Latin America and the Caribbean had the lowest proportion of international migrants in total population (1.4 per cent), followed by Asia and Africa (1.6 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively). Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean both experienced a decline in the share of international migrants among their total population between 1990 and 2013, in part owing to the fact that the overall population increased more rapidly than the total migrant stock.

3. Half of all international migrants worldwide reside in just ten countries

  • In 2013, over 51 per cent of all international migrants in the world were living in ten countries. The largest number of international migrants resided in the United States of America: 46 million in 2013, equal to 19.8 per cent of the world’s total (Figure 3). The Russian Federation hosted the second largest number of migrants worldwide (11 million), followed by Germany (10 million), Saudi Arabia (9 million), and the United Arab Emirates and the United King-dom (8 million each).
Figure 3: Ten countries with the largest number of international migrants, 1990, 2000 and 2013 (millions)

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  • Since 1990, most countries in the world have witnessed an increase in the number of migrants. Between 1990 and 2013, the size of the international migrant stock grew in 167 countries or areas, while it declined in 63 countries or areas (Figure 4).
  • The United States of America gained the largest number of international migrants between 1990 and 2013: nearly 23 million, equal to 1 million additional migrants per annum. The United Arab Emirates recorded the second largest gain during this period (7 million), followed by Spain (6 million). Yet all ten countries recording the largest gains in their migrant stock between 1990 and 2013, witnessed a deceleration in their annual growth rate between 2010 and 2013 compared to the period 2000 to 2010.
  • Ageing of international migrants and the voluntary repatriation of refugees has contributed to the decline in the migrant stock in some coun-tries. Countries that recorded large declines in the size of their migrant stock between 1990 and 2013 in-cluded India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Pakistan and the Ukraine.
Figure 4: Average annual rate of change of international migrants, 2000-2013 (percentage)

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Note: The boundaries on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations
  • In 2013, migrants accounted for at least one in every five people in 51 countries or areas. These include small island states in the Caribbean, Melane-sia, Micronesia or Polynesia as well countries in Western Asia. In contrast, in many countries of Africa, Eastern Asia, South America and Southern Asia migrants account for less than 5 per cent of the total population.

4. Globally, women account for about half of all international migrants

  • Women comprise 48 per cent of the interna-tional migrant stock worldwide. Yet there are considerable differences across regions. In the North, women constituted 52 per cent of all migrants in 2013, while in the South they accounted for 43 per cent.
  • Since 1990, the South has witnessed a drop in the proportion of women among all migrants. Between 1990 and 2013, the percentage of women among all migrants declined from 46 to 43 per cent in the developing regions. In the North during the same period, however, the share of women increased slightly: from 51 to 52 per cent.
  • The decline in the percentage of women in the South is primarily the result of a rapid increase in the number of male migrants in Asia. Since 2000, the annual increase in the number of male migrants in Asia (3.1 per cent) far exceeded the increase the number of female migrants (1.9 per cent). The increase in male migrants in Asia has been fuelled by the strong demand for migrant workers in the oil-producing countries in Western Asia.
  • Historic destinations of international migrants tend to host higher proportions of women. In 2013, the percentage female among all international mi-grants was highest in Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean (52 per cent each), followed by North-ern America (51 per cent). In contrast, male migrants significantly outnumbered female migrants in Asia (58 per cent) and Africa (54 per cent), where migra-tion is more frequently of shorter duration (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Percentage of women among all international migrants, 1990, 2000 and 2013

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* Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Since 1990, the proportion of women among all international migrants increased in all major areas with the exception of Africa and Asia. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the share of females among all migrants rose from 50 per cent in 1990 to 52 per cent in 2013. This increase is primarily due to the ageing of the migrant stock in that major area. In contrast, in Asia the percentage of women among all international migrant stock fell from 46 per cent in 1990 to 42 per cent in 2013.
Figure 6: Percentage female among all international migrants, 2013

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Note: The boundaries on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations
  • In 2013, women constituted more than half of all migrants in 101 countries or areas (Figure 6). Estonia, Latvia and Poland were among the countries with the highest shares. In 11 countries, all in Asia, women accounted for less than one in three interna-tional migrants. Bangladesh, Oman and Qatar were among the countries with the lowest proportions of women in their migrant stock in 2013.

5. Refugees account for a relatively small proportion of the global migrant stock

  • In 2013, the total number of refugees in the world was estimated at 15.7 million, representing about seven per cent of all international migrants. Between 1990 and 2010, the global number of refugeesiii declined from 18.6 million to about 15.4 million. However since then, the number has increased.
Figure 7: Refugees by major area, 2013 (millions)

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  • Nearly nine of every ten refugees in the world live in the developing regions. In 2013, some 13.7 million refugees, or 87.2 per cent of the 15.7 million refugees worldwide, resided in countries in the global South. Asia hosted the largest number of refugees in 2013 (10.4 million), followed by Africa (2.9 million), Europe (1.5 million) (Figure 7)
  • A small number of developing countries host the majority of refugees worldwide. In 2013, Jordan hosted the largest number of refugees (2.6 million), followed by the State of Palestine (2.2 million), Pakistan (1.7 million), the Syrian Arab Republic (1.2 million), Iran (Islamic Republic of) (0.9 million) and Germany (0.5 million).


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NOTES
i The estimates of the migrant stock were prepared by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. The data presented here refer to the international migrant stock defined as a mid-year estimate of the number of people living in a country or area other than the one in which they were born or, in the absence of such data, the number of people of foreign citizenship. Most statistics used to estimate the international migrant stock were obtained from population censuses, population registers and nationally representative household surveys. The refugee data used to estimate the migrant stock were based on figures reported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.The following source should be cited when referring to the data in this fact sheet: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 Revision (United Nations database,POP/DB/MIG/Stock/Rev.2013). See: www.unmig ration.org.
ii The term “North” refers to countries or regions traditionally classified for statistical purposes as “developed,” while the term “South” refers to those classified as “developing.” The developed regions include Europe and Northern America plus Australia, New Zealand and Japan. These terms are used for statistical conven-ience and do not express a judgment about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process.
iii The data are based on estimates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (2013). UNHCR Statistical Online Population Database. See: www.unhcr.org/statistics/ population database and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) (2013). UNWRA in figures. See: www.unwra.org.

Population Facts No. 2013/3 Rev.1

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International Migration 2013:
Migrants by origin and destinationi

1. South-South migration is as common as South-North migration

  • In 2013, about 82.3 million international migrants who were born in the South were residing in the South.ii This number was slightly higher than the number of international migrants born in the South and living in the North (81.9 million). The number of international migrants from the North who also resided in the North stood at 53.7 million, whereas 13.7 million international migrants from the North were living in the South (Figure 1).
  • Slightly more than a third (36 per cent) of international migrants were born in the South and were living in the South in 2013. Another third (35 per cent) were born in the South and were living in the North. Further, slightly less than a quarter (23 per cent) of international migrants worldwide were born and living in the North, whereas only six per cent were from the North and living in the South (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Distribution of international migrants by origin and destination, 2013 (millions and percent-age)

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  • A majority of international migrants in the world originated in the South. Of the 232 million total foreign-born in 2013, 71 per cent, or 164 million, were born in the South.

2. Since 1990, South-North migration has been the main driver of global migration trends, but South-South migration remains the largest category

  • From 1990 to 2013, the number of interna-tional migrants born in the South and residing in the North doubled, increasing from 40 to 82 million and growing more than twice as fast as the global total. Over the same period, the migrant population originating in the South and living in the South grew from 59 million to 82 million (a 41 per cent rise) (Figure 2). Fifty-four per cent of the growth in the number of international migrants was attributable to growth in South-North migration, while 31 per cent was due to an increase in South-South migration.
Figure 2: Numbers of international migrants by origin and destination, 1990-2013

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  • South-South and South-North migration reached similar levels, with both increasing from about 60 million in 2000 to about 82 million in 2013. As a result, they each now account for roughly 40 per cent of the overall growth in foreign-born populations.
  • Since 1990, the growth of migrant populations living in the North was fuelled largely by an increase in the number of migrants from the South. Between 1990 and 2013, the migrant population in the North increased by 53 million persons, of whom 42 million (78 per cent) were born in the South. The remaining 12 million migrants in this region (22 per cent) were born in other countries of the North.
  • The growth of the migrant population in the South was fuelled almost entirely by an increase in the number of migrants from the South. Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born population in the developing regions increased by 24 million. Almost all of these migrants were born elsewhere in the South.

3. International migrants differ with regard to their tendency to remain within their region of birth

  • In 2013, about 80 per cent of migrants born in the North were residing in the North, while only half of all international migrants born in the South had remained in the South. Over time, there has been very little change, with international migrants born in the North being more likely to remain in the North and about half of all Southern-born international migrants residing outside the South (Figure 3).
Figure 3: International migrant stock by origin and destination, 2013 (percentage)

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  • The majority of international migrants born in Europe, Asia and Oceania were living in a country within their region of birth. Out of the 58 million international migrants born in Europe, 38 million were residing in Europe (65 per cent), compared to 54 million of the 92 million international migrants from Asia who were living in Asia (58 per cent), and 1.1 million of the 1.9 million foreign-born from Oceania living in Oceania (58 per cent) (Table 1).
Table 1: International migrant populations by major area of origin and destination, 2013 (millions)

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Note: Note: “LAC” stands for “Latin America and the Caribbean” and “NAM” for “Northern America”. Retention by destination is calculated as the number of persons residing in a destination (major area) who were also born in the same major area. Retention by origin is calculated as the number of persons from an origin (major area) who were also residing in the same major area.
  • The majority of international migrants born in Latin America and the Caribbean (85 per cent), Northern America (72 per cent) and Africa (51 per cent) were residing in a country outside their major area of birth. In 2013, 31.3 million international migrants of the 36.7 million foreign-born from Latin America and the Caribbean were living in a different major area. Latin America and the Caribbean had the lowest intra-regional migration levels. Of those living outside Latin America and the Caribbean, 83 per cent were living in Northern America. For foreign-born from Northern America, Latin America and the Carib-bean was the preferred major area of residence.

4. Foreign-born living in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe generally were born in a country within the same major area

  • In 2013, 82 per cent of international migrants living in Africa, 76 per cent in Asia, 64 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean and 52 per cent in Europe were living in the major area in which they were born. In Northern America, only 2 per cent of current foreign-born residents were born in a country of the region. About 14 per cent of foreign-born residents in Oceania were born in Oceania (Figure 4).
  • In 2013, Asians represented the largest diaspora group residing outside their major area of birth. They accounted for about 19 million foreign-born living in Europe, 16 million in Northern America and 3 million in Oceania. Migrants born in Latin America and the Caribbean represented the second largest diaspora group with the majority living in Northern America (26 million). Europeans, the third largest group, were primarily residing in Northern America (7.9 million) and Asia (7.6 million).
  • Foreign-born from Asia only recently overtook foreign-born from Latin America and the Caribbean as the largest diaspora group. In 1990, international migrants born in Asia and Europe accounted for the largest number of foreign-born living outside their major areas, both numbering about 21 million. By 2010, Asians had increased to 37 million, foreign-born from Latin America and the Caribbean to 30 million and foreign-born Europeans numbered 20 million.
  • Within Asia, foreign-born from Southern Asia were the most likely to reside outside their region of birth (23 million). Oil-producing countries in Western Asia were the preferred destination for these migrants (13.5 million).
  • Within Latin America and the Caribbean, international migrants from Central America were the most likely to reside outside their region of birth (17 million). The majority of these migrants were living in the United States of America (16.5 million).
Figure 4: Migration within major areas, 2013 (percentage)

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Note: The boundaries on this map do no imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations. The data refer to the proportion of foreign-born living in a particular country that were born in the major area of birth in which they are currently residing.

5. At smaller geographic levels, retention of international migrants varies considerably

  • More than 90 per cent of international migrants born in the Caribbean, Central America, Central Asia, Melanesia and Northern Africa resided outside their region of birth. In contrast, less than 60 per cent of foreign-born from Australia and New Zealand, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, Western Africa and Western Asia were living outside their region of birth. Western Africa was the only region in the South where the majority of its international migrants were residing within their region of birth (68 per cent).
  • In Europe, international migrants from North-ern Europe were the most likely to reside outside their region of birth (77 per cent). In contrast, Eastern Europeans were the least likely to live outside their region of birth (64 per cent).

6. In the South, Southern and Western Asia are host to some of the largest “bilateral stocks” of international migrants

  • In 2013, the main “bilateral stocks” of international migrants in the global South consisted of a combination of long-term residents, migrant workers and refugees. Migrants from Afghanistan living in Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran (around 2.3 million persons in each country), most of whom were refugees, constituted two of the main “bilateral stocks” of international migrants within the region.
  • Oil-producing countries in Western Asia hosted many foreign-born migrant workers from Southern Asia. Some 2.9 million international migrants from India were residing in the United Arab Emirates and an additional 1.8 million in Saudi Arabia (table 2).
Table 2: Selected corridors, 2013 (millions)

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Note: “United States” stands for United States of America and “China, Hong Kong, SAR” stands for China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. “Place of birth” refers to present-day territories.

7. In the North, the United States, Germany and France host some of the largest “bilateral stocks” of international migrants

  • The world’s largest corridor of international migration is between the United States and Mexico. In 2013, the United States hosted some 13 million persons born in Mexico. There were also about 2.2 million foreign-born from China, 2.1 million from India and 2.0 million from the Philippines living in the United States. Since 2000, however, the number of international migrants born in China or India and living in the United States has doubled, whereas the number of Mexican foreign-born has only increased by about 31 per cent.
  • Germany and France hosted the largest bilateral migrant stocks in Europe. In 2013, about 1.5 million international migrants born in Turkey were residing in Germany. Many of these migrants came to Germany under guest worker progammes in the 1960s and 1970s and opted to stay. Some 1.5 million international migrants born in Algeria, a former French colony, were residing in France.
  • Some successor states of the former Soviet Union retain close migratory ties. Bilateral migrant stocks are especially large for Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.


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NOTES
i The estimates of the migrant stock were prepared by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. The data presented here refer to the international migrant stock defined as a mid-year estimate of the number of people living in a country or area other than the one in which they were born or, in the absence of such data, the number of people of foreign citizenship. Most statistics used to estimate the international migrant stock were obtained from population censuses, population registers and nationally representative household surveys. The refugee data used to estimate the migrant stock were based on figures reported by the Office of the United Nations High Commis-sioner for Refugees and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The following source should be cited when referring to the data in this fact sheet: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 Revision (United Nations database, POP/DB/MIG/Stock/Rev.2013). See www.unmigration.org.
ii The term “North” refers to countries or regions traditionally classified for statistical purposes as “developed,” while the term “South” refers to those classified as “developing.” The devel-oped regions include Europe and Northern America plus Australia, New Zealand and Japan. These terms are used for statistical convenience and do not express a judgment about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process.

Population Facts No. 2013/4

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International Migration 2013:
Age and Sex Distribution

1. International migrants are older than the general population

  • At the global level, estimates indicate the median age of all international migrants is 38.4 years, compared with 29.2 years in the total population. The higher median age is partly due to a smaller percentage of children among migrants, as newborns in the country of destination are not considered international migrants in many countries. The median age of migrants is higher in the developed regions (42 years) than in the developing regions (33 years).
  • International migrants living in Africa are the youngest, with a median age of 30. In contrast, migrants are older in Europe, Northern America and Oceania, where the median age is 42.3, 42.2 and 43.4 years, respectively (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Median age of international migrants and total population, 2013ii

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  • The median age of international migrants remained constant over the last few years. Aging of the migrant population in destination countries is offset by the inflow of young migrants and the return of migrants to their countries of origin. In the devel-oped regions, the median age has remained constant for the past few years, while in the developing regions it increased only slightly, from 32.8 in 2010 to 33.2 in 2013.

2. The population of working-age among international migrants is significantly higher than among the total population

  • Some 74 per cent of all international migrants are aged 20 to 64, compared to only 58 per cent of the global population. Globally, the proportion of migrants aged 20 to 64 increased from 67 per cent in 1990 to 74 per cent in 2013. During the same period, the share of the working age population in the total population increased from 51 to 58 per cent.
  • Currently, more than six out of every ten international migrants of working age reside in the developed regions (see Figure 2). This distribution has varied little since 2000, when 62 per cent of working-age migrants resided in the Northiii. Female migrants of working age are more concentrated in the developed regions than their male counterparts — 66 versus 57 per cent of the global total, respectively, in 2013.
Figure 2: Age distribution of migrants in developing and developed regions, 2013 (millions)

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  • Between 2000 and 2013, the number of work-ing-age migrants has grown faster in the South than in the North. In the global South, the number of migrants of working age increased from 46 million in 2000 to 66 million in 2013 (a 43 per cent increase), compared to the global North, where it rose from 76 million in 2000 to 104 million in 2013 (a 37 per cent increase). Women accounted for around half of the increase in the North (52 per cent) and a third of the increase in the South (33 per cent).

3. Young migrants are underrepresented among all international migrants

  • Globally, 15 per cent of all international migrants are under the age of 20 compared to 35 per cent of the total population. This difference is due to the fact that most migrants move when they are between the ages of 20 and 34. Moreover, in many countries, children born in destination countries are not considered in international migrants.
  • The proportion of young migrants among all migrants continues to decline. This proportion has declined from 21 per cent in 1990 to 18 per cent in 2000 and further to 15 per cent in 2010. The propor-tion of young migrants is significantly higher in the developing regions (23 per cent) than in the developed regions (less than 10 per cent) (Figure 2).

4. There is a larger proportion of older persons among international migrants than in the total population

  • Globally, there are close to 26 million migrants aged 65 and over. Older migrants represent 11 per cent of the total migrant population, as compared to 8 per cent for the world’s population. Fifty-six per cent of elderly migrants are women, which is similar to the percentage of persons aged 65 and over glob-ally.
  • The proportion of older migrants has declined since 1990. The share of older migrants in the total migrant population declined from 12 per cent in 1990 to 11 per cent in 2013. The proportion of older migrants was higher for women (13 per cent) than for men (9 per cent).
  • Between 1990 and 2013 the number of older migrants grew significantly in the North, but changed only slightly in the South. The North experienced an increase of almost 7 million older international migrants from 1990 to 2013. During the same period, the number of older migrants in the global South increased only by 0.3 million persons.

5. The ratio of migrants living in the North to those living in the South varies significantly by sex and age

  • There are about three times as many migrants under 5 years of age living in the South as in the North. By contrast, there are about 2.5 times as many migrants at ages 55 and above living in the North as in the South (Figure 2).
  • Starting at age 20, the ratio of migrants living in the North to those living in the South increases much faster with age for women than for men. The largest difference is for the age group 55-59 (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Ratio of migrants in developed to develop-ing regions by sex and age, 2013

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6. The proportion of women among international migrants varies considerably across regions and by age

  • Overall, the ratio of women to men among international migrants declines from 0.9 in the age group 0-4 years, to 0.8 in the age group 30-34. From ages 35-39, the ratio increases (see Figure 4).
  • In the South, migrant men outnumber migrant women in all age groups except for ages 65 years and older. In the developing regions, the ratio of women to men declines from 0.9 at ages 0-4 to a low of 0.6 for ages 30-34. It then gradually increases and reaches its highest level — around 1.1 — for ages 65 and over.
  • In the North, women outnumber men in all age groups above 29 years. In the developed regions, the ratio of women to men in all age groups under age 30 varies between 0.9 and 1.0. It then increases, gradually, to reach 1.3 for ages 65 and over.
Figure 4: Ratio of women to men by age group for the world and for developed and developing regions, 2013

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7. Migrants aged 20 to 34 years comprise a large share of international migrants

  • Migrants aged 20 to 34 represent 28 per cent of all international migrants, equivalent to 65 million people.
  • The share of women among migrants at ages 20 to 34 is relatively small. In the developed regions, half of all international migrants aged 20 to 34 are women. In contrast, women represent only 40 per cent of all international migrants aged 20 to 34, a reflection of the large number of male labour migrants in Western Asia.

8. The origin and destination of migrants at ages 20 to 34 are markedly different from those of the overall migrant population

  • Migrants aged 20 to 34 are more numerous in the South than in the North. Countries of the South are the origin of 72.3 per cent of migrants in this age group (the “recent migrants”), compared to 70.9 per cent for migrants of all ages. From the destination perspective, the difference is even more notable: migrants aged 20 to 34 who have migrated to the South constitute 47 per cent of the world total, versus 41 per cent for migrants of all ages (Figure 5).
  • South-South migration is more significant for ages 20 to 34 than for other age groups. Forty per cent of migrants in this age group have migrated between countries of the South, compared to 36 per cent for migrants across the full age range. Furthermore, South-South migration in this age group represents 56 per cent of migrants who originate in the South, compared to 50 per cent for all migrants, regardless of age.
Figure 5. Estimated percentage of female migrants at ages 20 to 34,2013

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NOTES
i The estimates of the migrant stock were prepared by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. The data presented here refer to the international migrant stock defined as a mid-year estimate of the number of people living in a country or area other than the one in which they were born or, in the absence of such data, the number of people of foreign citizenship. Most statistics used to estimate the international migrant stock were obtained from population censuses, population registers and nationally representative household surveys. The refugee data used to estimate the migrant stock were based on figures reported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The following source should be cited when referring to the data in this fact sheet: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 Revision (United Nations database, POP/DB/MIG/Stock/Rev.2013). See www.unmigration.org.
ii “LAC” refers to “Latin America and the Caribbean”.
iii The term “North” refers to countries or regions traditionally classified for statistical purposes as “developed,” while the term “South” refers to those classified as “developing.” The developed regions include Europe and Northern America plus Australia, New Zealand and Japan. These terms are used for statistical conven-ience and do not express a judgment about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process.

Press release

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232 million international migrants living abroad worldwide–new
UN global migration statistics reveal

Forthcoming UN High-level Dialogue aims to enhance benefits of migration for all

New York, 11 September—September—There are as many international migrants born in the South living in other countries in the South as in countries in the North, reflecting changing patterns of Asian migration, but globally the United States remains the most popular destination, according to new data presented by the United Nations today.

More people than ever are living abroad. In 2013, 232 million people, or 3.2 per cent of the world’s population, were international migrants, compared with 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990.

The new estimates include breakdowns by region and country of destination and origin, and by sex and age. The North, or developed countries, is home to 136 million international migrants, compared to 96 million in the South, or developing countries. Most international migrants are of working age (20 to 64 years) and account for 74 per cent of the total. Globally, women account for 48 per cent of all international migrants.

High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development next month

The data were released in advance of the upcoming High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, which will take place 3-4 October 2013 at UN Headquarters. The purpose of the High-level Dialogue 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.

“Migration, when governed fairly, can make a very important contribution to social and economic development both in the countries of origin and in the countries of destination,” said Mr. Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. “Migration broadens the opportunities available to individuals and is a crucial means of broadening access to resources and reducing poverty.”

South-South is as common as South-North migration

The data show that South-South migration is as common as South-North migration. In 2013, about 82.3 million international migrants who were born in the South were residing in the 2 South, which is slightly higher than the 81.9 million international migrants originating in the South and living in the North.

Asians and Latin Americans living outside of their home regions form the largest global diaspora groups. In 2013, Asians represented the largest group, accounting for about 19 million migrants living in Europe, some 16 million in Northern America and about 3 million in Oceania. Migrants born in Latin America and the Caribbean represented the second largest diaspora group with the majority, 26 million, living in Northern America.

In 2013, South Asians were the largest group of international migrants living outside of their home region. Of the 36 million international migrants from South Asia, 13.5 million resided in the oil-producing countries in Western Asia. International migrants originating from Central America, including Mexico, represented another large group of migrants living outside their home region. About 16.3 million, out of 17.4 million Central American migrants lived in the US.

Most migrants live in Europe and Asia

Europe and Asia combined host nearly two-thirds of all international migrants worldwide. Europe remains the most popular destination region with 72 million international migrants in 2013, compared to 71 million in Asia. Since 1990, Northern America recorded the largest gain in the absolute number of international migrants, adding 25 million, and experienced the fastest growth in migrant stock by an average of 2.8 per cent per year.

“New sources and destinations of migrants are emerging, and in some cases, countries have become important points of origin, transit and destination simultaneously,” said John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division in the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Compared to other regions of destination, Asia saw the largest increase of international migrants since 2000, adding some 20 million migrants in 13 years. Mr. Wilmoth said this growth was mainly fuelled by the increasing demand for foreign labour in the oil-producing countries of Western Asia and in South-Eastern Asian countries with rapidly growing economies, such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

International migration remains highly concentrated

In 2013, half of all international migrants lived in 10 countries, with the US hosting the largest number (45.8 million), followed by the Russian Federation (11 million); Germany (9.8 million); Saudi Arabia (9.1 million); United Arab Emirates (7.8 million); United Kingdom (7.8 million); France (7.4 million); Canada (7.3 million); Australia (6.5 million); and Spain (6.5 million).

The US gained the largest absolute number of international migrants between 1990 and 2013—nearly 23 million, equal to one million additional migrants per year. The United Arab Emirates recorded the second largest gain with seven million, followed by Spain with six million.

For comprehensive factsheets on the global migration data and information on the High-level Dialogue, please visit www.unmigration.org.

Media contacts:
Mr. Wynne Boelt, boelt@un.org, +1 212-963-8264 and Ms. Melanie Prud’homme, +1-917- 367-3541, prudhommem@un.org – UN Department of Public Information

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John Wilmoth, Director,
        Population Division/DESA        
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Bela Hovy, Chief, Migration
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Photos by UN Photo/Evan Schneider