Statistics on Migration

Content

1. Numbers of migrants
1.1. Destinations
1.2. Origins
1.3. Religious affiliation
2. Main migration routes
3. Legal and illegal migration
4. Public opposition to migration
5. Migration and crime
6. Migration and education
7. Migration and unemployment
8. Migration and wages
9. Potential migration
10. Internal migration
11. Migration to the U.S.
12. Migration to the U.K.

1. Numbers of migrants

The Center for Global Development (CGD) estimates that more than 200 million people – or approximately 3% of humanity – do not live in the country where they were born. That’s double the figure from 50 years ago and at least 50 million more than in 1990 (source).

SDT-2013-12-17-global-migration-01-02

(source)

Historically speaking, however, the numbers of current migrants (people living for more than a certain time abroad) is not particularly high, notwithstanding the fiery rhetoric of some. Between 1815 and 1914 at least 82 million people moved voluntarily from one country to another, at a yearly rate of 660 migrants per million of the world population.  The comparable rate between 1945 and 1980, for example, was only 215 per million. What has changed a lot is the pattern of migration. In the early modern period, Europeans settled in most parts of the world, and now the migration flow has reversed from the south to the north.

People now migrate for other reasons. Aging in the developed countries, the need for unskilled labor, as well as the fact that people can sometimes earn 15 to 20 times as much if they migrate (this is called the place premium). Migrating today is also a lot easier than it used to be. The wage differential is obvious from the fact that South-to-North migration has grown the most of all corridors between 1960 and 2000, increasing by 55 percent.

Somewhat hard to understand is the fact that older people are a large group among migrants:

migrants by age group 2013

migrants by age group, 2013

(source)

Maybe that’s a reflection of the fact that immigration restrictions have recently been enhanced.

1.1. Destinations

Not surprisingly, the richest countries receive the largest number of migrants: while migrants come from a very diverse and widespread array of countries (see 1.2. below), the vast majority end up immigrating to a relatively few areas – North America, Europe, Australia and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Just four countries—the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom—attract two-thirds of high-skilled immigrants from around the globe. Guest workers account for between 50%-85% of the populations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE and about 35% of the population in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has in fact one of largest migrant labor populations. 7.5 million foreign workers, or more than 50% of the work force. In Kuwait and the UAE, virtually the entire private sector labor force consists of migrants (source). The EU receives about 1.5 million immigrants from outside the EU each year.

However, let’s not forget that developing countries also receive a high number of immigrants – so-called “south-to-south” migration:

BozhJQ4IIAEQnqW

(source)

When counting the numbers of immigrants in a destination country, it’s important to make a few distinctions:

  • the current “stock” of immigrants (or foreign born residents)
  • the annual inflows of immigrants
  • the net inflows (inflows minus outflows)
  • and the difference between total numbers (stocks or inflows) on the one hand and numbers related to the total population numbers of the destination countries on the other hand.

Let’s first have a look at the total stock, unrelated to population numbers:

In 2013, Europe and Northern America were the most popular destinations. However, Asia as well receives a large number:

number of migrants by destination 2013

number of migrants by destination, 2013

(source)

Here are somewhat older data, just for the sake of comparison:

countries with largest number of migrants

Here’s a table showing the annual number of immigrant inflows (in thousands of people):

annual number of immigrant inflows

(source)

Those are gross inflows; when you deduct the outflows you obviously get smaller numbers. For example, annual net migration to Britain is about 250,000 individuals a year; gross inflows are almost double. Here are the net numbers for the US:

BN-BF357_IMMIG_E_20140123154314

Obviously, the rankings of most immigrant friendly destination countries are different when you relate the numbers of migrants to the size of the population of the destination country. In these images the stocks are related to total population:

migrants as percentage of population 2013

migrants as percentage of population, 2013

(source)

Again, some older data:

countries with largest number of migrants as share of total population

(source)

These are the shares for OECD countries only:

immigrants as share of population

(source)

immigrants as percent of population

(source)

Here’s a table – similar to the one above – relating not the stock but the annual number of immigrant inflows to the total population of the destination countries:

annual number of immigrant inflows related to total population numbers

(source)

From the Telegraph newspaper, the map of the world modified according to the number of immigrants per country:

proportion of immigrants map

Foreign-citizens-in-Europe

(source, click image to enlarge)

foreign born share of population international comparison

(source)

The graphs below show the changing shares of foreign-born residents in different countries (showing countries with lowest and highest increases between 1990 and 2010):

changing share of foreign-born residents

(source)

Another way to measure the number of immigrants is to compare the number of foreign born workers to the total number of people in a country’s workforce:

immigration foreign born labor

(source)

These are 10 major metropolitan areas with more than 1/3 of their populations that is foreign born:

metro areas foreign born population

1.2. Origins

Of the world’s 200 million migrants, most come fom Mexico, followed by Russia and the Ukraine where borders changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

weighted map of origins of migrants

(source, click image to enlarge)

Here’s an overview of the origin of immigrants in OECD countries (“rich” countries):

main sources of immigration to oecd countries

Around 4m people moved to OECD countries in 2006, 5% more than the year before, according to the OECD’s annual migration report. Joining family members and seeking employment were the main reasons, accounting for 44% and 14% of all arrivals respectively. America is by far the most popular destination, taking 1.3m migrants. China provides the biggest share of legal immigrants to OECD countries (though Britain and Ireland do not monitor nationality). Chinese migrants made up the biggest group in South Korea, Japan and Canada, and the second largest in America after Mexicans. (source)

More details for the U.S.:

origin of immigrants in the US

These are the numbers for 2010:

origins of migrant in the US year 2010

origins of migrant in the US year 2010

origins of migrants in the US

origins of migrants in the US

(source)

Some figures for the U.K.:

migration to the UK

(source)
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1.3. Religious affiliation

Half of the world’s 200 million migrants are Christian, coming from countries such as Mexico, Russia etc. A quarter are Muslim, coming mainly from the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

migrants by religious affiliation

(source)

Jewish migrants represent a smaller share of the total number, but relative to their numbers Jews have by far the highest level of migration compared with other religious groups. About one-quarter of Jews alive today have left their birth country and now live somewhere else.

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2. Main migration routes

The main migration routes today:

migration routes

The largest growth in migration is for people migrating from the South to the North (the latter includes Australia and Japan):

migration south north

(source)

The US is a particularly important recipient of migrants from all regions of the world. In 2000, the US was the most important destination for the migrants from sixty countries across the globe, including Germany, Vietnam, Cuba and Korea. Moreover, 13 of the largest 50 migration corridors in the world and 6 of the 10 largest South-North corridors in 2000 were to the US. The two most significant migration corridors to the US, from Mexico and the Philippines, totalled 10.8 million migrants, equivalent to 31% of the US migrant stock or nearly 7% of the world total. (source)

South-south migration is mainly to the oil-rich countries in the Middle East.

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3. Legal and illegal migration

One has to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. Here are some data for the U.S.:

number of unauthorized immigrants in the us

There were about 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the US in 2012.

PH-unauthorized-immigrants-1-01

illegal immigrants in the US

(source)

unauthorized immigrants in the US - map

(source)

Nearly two-thirds of the 11 million or so unauthorized adult immigrants in the United States have lived in the country for at least 10 years and nearly half are parents of minor children. About 1/3 children born in the U.S. of immigrant parents has at least one father or mother who lives there illegally.

illegal immigrants duration of residence in the US

(source)

Most are from Mexico:

mexican born population in the US by status

(source)

Recently, illegal immigration has been decreasing slightly in the US (as in other countries), probably because of the recession of 2008.

illegal immigration in the US after the recession

illegal immigrants in the US

(source)

It’s not just the economic recession that has resulted in a decline of illegal immigration, especially from Mexico. Better law enforcement also played a role. The number of Border Patrol apprehensions – which, by the way, are a common source of measurement of illegal immigration – went down fast, as is shown by this map:

border apprehensions US-Mexico

(source)

Part of the reason for this decline is border enforcement. Here’s a map of the fences being built across the US-Mexico border. Those fences, combined with an increase in border patrol agents and the economic recession, has resulted in lower numbers of illegal immigrants.

illegal immigrant apprehensions US-Mexico border

(source)

These are the numbers of deportations:

deportations US

I personally regret this decline since I’m in favor of open borders (see here). If it’s the recession that drives down illegal immigration, then that means an increase in poverty or at least an absence of a decrease. And if it’s fences and border apprehensions that drive it down, then that means a violation of people’s freedom of movement, freedom of association etc.

Immigrants’ right to life is also violated by border enforcement. Here’s a measure of the deadliness of illegal border crossings:

death rate border crossings

(source)

The death rate at the Africa-EU passage is 10 times higher than the US-Mexico dead rate, but only 1/4 of the Berlin Wall rate. Here are more data on the death toll of illegal immigration. One estimate says 23,000 migrants have died at Europe’s doors since 2000.

Routes of irregular migration into Europe

(source, source)

When border controls don’t work and people manage to cross them alive, deportation is often seen as the sole remaining option. Here’s an interesting number: to deport the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States en masse, it would take more than 200,000 buses, stretching more than 1,800 miles (source).

Many countries choose not to deport illegal immigrants, and instead offer them “legalization” or “regularization”, often in one-time campaigns. For instance, more than 5 million unauthorized migrants have been legalized in the European Union since 1996.

legalization of illegal immigrants in Europe

(source)

Most legal restrictions on migration concern immigration. Some countries, however, also restrict emigration. All-out emigration restrictions in the style of East-Germany are the exception nowadays, but a lot of countries restrict female emigration:

restrictions on female emigration

restrictions on female emigration

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4. Public opposition to migration

The public in most developed countries (or rich countries) is often opposed to immigration. Here’s a map showing which countries are the most/least welcoming to foreigners:

large

(source)

restricting immigration pew

(source)

immigration public opinion

(source)
US public opinion on immigration

US public opinion on immigration

(source)

immigration into the UK and public sentiment

(source)

whom would you not like to have as a neighbor

 

wy1gcnhlkeepmhdtxsg7aa

A lot of opposition is based on the fear that immigration costs money to the destination country. That, in fact, is not true:

BM8M6bkCMAAk7Aa

It’s perhaps somewhat strange but there’s also a lot of opposition to immigration among immigrant communities:

attitudes toward immigrants among immigrants

(source)
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5. Migration and crime

One of the causes of this negative perception of migration is the mistaken belief that there is a correlation between migration and crime rates:

(source)

(source)

(source)
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6. Migration and education

immigrants as share of population

(source)

Immigrant children typically do worse at school than their fellow pupils. There are many reasons for this difference in performance and in test scores:

  • Immigrant families are often poor
  • Immigrant children’s parents are often undereducated: many immigrants are attracted to low-paid, low-skilled jobs because that’s where the opportunities are; and even though many immigrants work below their level of education, the labor market may exert a downward pressure on the levels of education of the entrants, and hence also of their children
  • Immigrant families often do not know the language as well as the locals (or their children start school without any knowledge of the language at all)
  • etc.

However, even when we correct for these disadvantages, as the OECD does in its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), not all of the gap is closed. See this graph:

education performance of immigrants compared to host-country mean score

(source)

Apart from some exceptions – notably Chinese immigrants – there is still a gap and immigrants are underperforming in schools.

The interesting thing about this graph, as pointed out by The Economist, is that it allows us to compare the results of one type of immigrant community in different host countries. Turkish immigrants, for example, do much better in Belgium or Switzerland than in Austria or Denmark. If children do differently depending on where they end up, then it’s possible to conclude that the schooling systems in the host countries play a part in the performance of the pupils. Or, if not the schooling system as such, then the way in which the system deals with immigrant children (does it treat them fairly, or does it automatically side-track them in low-level schools or disciplines?).

Of course, we should be careful not to put all the blame on schools, poverty, language etc. Immigrants are to a certain extent responsible for their own behavior and accomplishments.

Some more data, specifically for the US this time:

high school dropouts immigrants

(source)

socio-economic status of natives and mexican immigrants in the us

(source)
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7. Migration and unemployment

immigration and unemployment

(source)
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8. Migration and wages

immigration and wages

(source)
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9. Potential migration

The Gallup Potential Net Migration Index estimates what would happen to countries’ populations if everyone in the world who wanted to migrate were able to, and if everyone who wanted to leave were also able to. So the index gives the net national (adult) population growth from unrestricted international migration, or, in other words, national population growth as it would occur when there wouldn’t be immigration restrictions and when all those who desire to migrate permanently to other countries would actually move where they wanted.

Mathematically, it’s the estimated number of adults who would like to move permanently out of a country if the opportunity arose, subtracted from the estimated number who would like to move into it, as a proportion of the total adult population. A country’s population size affects how high or low its index score is and its ranking, since the score is expressed in terms of the percentage increase or decrease of the pre-immigration population. So a country with a small current population but a relative high number of foreigners wishing to go there, will figure high in the ranking. The absolute numbers of foreigners wishing to go there can, however, be much lower than the number for another country lower in the ranking but with a larger pre-immigration population. That’s why Singapore ranks higher than the U.S., although more people want to migrate to the U.S. If all people were allowed to migrate to the U.S. their impact on the total population number for the U.S. would, however, be smaller.

The index offers an indicator of the relative economic attractiveness of countries, or their relative state of misery.

net potential migration

(source)

There are roughly 600 million would-be migrants in the world today, roughly 15% of the world’s adults. Most of them are young, single, educated, relatively financially well-off but lacking in employment opportunities.

potential migration

desired destinations for migration

(source, click to enlarge)

top desired destinations for potential migrants

More than one in four adults worldwide (26% or 1 billion) say they would like to go to another country for temporary work.

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10. Internal migration

Migrant isn’t necessarily international. Large countries especially can witness substantial numbers of citizens moving internally, usually to the more prosperous regions. The typical example is of course China:

internal migration in China

This map relates migration patterns to Human Development Index scores:

migration and development levels in China

(source)
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11. Migration to the U.S.

In absolute numbers, the US is the world’s leader by far as a destination for immigrants. The country with the next largest number is Russia with 12.3 million.In 2006 the foreign-born population in the US surpassed 38 million, nearly 13% of the US population. In 2011, the total immigrant population in the US reached a record 40.4 million in 2011 (including 11 million illegal/unauthorized immigrants), again 13% of the total US population. This share of the total population is below the US peak of just under 15% during a previous immigration wave from 1890 to 1920 that was dominated by arrivals from Europe. In 1970, the U.S. census had found that the foreign-born population accounted for only 4.7 percent of the total population.

US immigrant population

(source)

The total number of foreign born people in the US grows by about 1 million each year, although recently the trend reversed ever so slightly, notably because of the recession of 2008. 70 million persons in the U.S. are of foreign birth or parentage (first or second generations) — about 23 percent of all Americans. Around 12 million – a third – of the foreign-born population in the U.S. is unauthorized.

These are the numbers of immigrants in the U.S. in terms of share of the total U.S. population:

foreign born share of US population

(source)

US immigrant share of population

Broken down by origin:

area-all-regions

(source, both legal and illegal immigrants)

And this graph compares numbers and percentages:

foreign-born population in the US

(source)

These are just the legal ones:

legal immigrants in the US

(source)

Unsurprisingly, most immigrants in the US, both legal and illegal, are Mexicans:

us-hispanic-population

immigration from Mexico to US

mexican born population in the US

(source)

mexican immigration to the US

(source)

IRCA is the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. More on the Bracero Program here.

Recently, however, the number of Asian immigrants has overtaken the number of Hispanic ones:

asian and hispanic immigrants in the US

(source)

Decades ago, Europeans were by far the largest group of immigrants in the US:

origins of immigrants in the US

(source)

Here is the breakdown by religion:

religion of US immigrants

(source)

The graph below shows the impact of all immigration on the total population numbers of the U.S. since the creation of the country:

US population with and without immigration

(source)
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12. Migration to the U.K.

Half a million people immigrated to the UK in 2012. Historically, that’s a very low figure.

immigration UK

(source)

Net migration in the UK – immigration minus emigration – was 153,000 in 2012, compared to 242,000 the previous year.

migration to the UK foreign born residents

20131102_BRC688

(source)

More data here.

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19 thoughts on “Statistics on Migration

  1. Pingback: Human Rights Maps (34): Illegal Immigrants in the U.S. « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  2. only4usa says:

    Can America take care of the world? How about a 1 billion in population in the United States? Can the world or the United States feed 10 billion people? World is nearing 7 billion people. Will there be enough fresh water for 10 billion people?

    http://www.alipac.com links to ongoing immigration problems in the United States.

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  12. Sam says:

    Number 5 is not clarified – what of the illegal criminals who are simply shipped out of the country as an alternative to incarceration?

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