PRESS RELEASE

International Migration at All-Time High

December 18, 2015

WASHINGTON, December 18, 2015 – The number of international migrants is expected to surpass 250 million this year, an all-time high, as people search for economic opportunity. And, fast growing developing countries have increasingly become a strong magnet for people from other parts of the developing world. 

In a demonstration of their economic footprint, international migrants will send $601 billion to their families in their home countries this year, with developing countries receiving $441 billion, says the Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, produced by the World Bank Group’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) initiative. 

The United States was the largest remittance source country, with an estimated $56 billion in outward flows in 2014, followed by Saudi Arabia ($37 billion), and Russia ($33 billion). India was the largest remittance receiving country, with an estimated $72 billion in 2015, followed by China ($64 billion), and the Philippines ($30 billion).

“At more than three times the size of development aid, international migrants’ remittances provide a lifeline for millions of households in developing countries. In addition, migrants hold more than $500 billion in annual savings. Together, remittances and migrant savings offer a substantial source of financing for development projects that can improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries,” said Dilip Ratha, co-author of the Factbook

The report provides a snapshot of latest statistics on immigration, emigration, skilled emigration, and remittance flows for 214 countries and territories. It updates the 2011 edition with additional data on bilateral migration and remittances and second generation diasporas, and recent movements of refugees, collected from various data sources, including national censuses, labor force surveys, and population registers.

It finds that South-South migration is larger than South-North migration. Over 38 percent of the international migrants in 2013 migrated from developing countries to other developing countries, compared to 34 percent that moved from developing countries to advanced countries.  

The top 10 migrant destination countries were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom, France, Canada, Spain and Australia. The top 10 migrant source countries were India, Mexico, Russia, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

Mexico-United States was the largest migration corridor in the world, accounting for 13 million migrants in 2013. Russia-Ukraine was the second largest, followed by Bangladesh-India, and Ukraine-Russia. The latter three are South-South corridors according to United Nations classification. 

“There is ample research to demonstrate that migration, both of highly-skilled and low skilled workers, generates numerous benefits for receiving and sending countries. The diaspora of developing countries and return migration can be a source of capital, trade, investment, knowledge, and technology transfers,” said Sonia Plaza, co-author of the Factbook.

In 2014, there were 14.4 million refugees (excluding 5.1 million Palestinian refugees), accounting for 6 percent of international migrants. About 86 percent of the refugees were hosted by developing countries, with Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Chad, and Uganda the largest host countries. In contrast, the number of refugees in advanced countries was 1.6 million. 

The Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016 is available at www.knomad.org and www.worldbank.org/migration. The Factbook will continue to be updated as new data becomes available.

Interact with migration experts at http://blogs.worldbank.org/peoplemove/

 

Regional Migration and Remittances Highlights 

International migrants from the East Asia and Pacific region totaled 31.4 million in 2013, of whom nearly half were living in high-income Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The largest source countries of emigrants were China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The region also hosted 9 million migrants, 69 percent of whom were from within the region, mainly from Thailand, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and the Philippines. Remittances to the region amounted to $129 billion in 2015, while remittances flowing out of the region were $24 billion in 2014.

Migrants from the Europe and Central Asia region totaled 31.9 million in 2013, of whom 46 percent were living in OECD countries. The largest source countries of emigrants were Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Romania, Turkey and Uzbekistan. The region also hosted 17.2 million migrants, mainly from countries within the region, such as Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Belarus. Remittances to the region amounted to $36 billion in 2015, while outward remittances were $11 billion in 2014. Recently, Turkey has become one of the largest host countries of Syrian refugees.

Migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean region totaled 32.5 million, nearly 85 percent of whom were living in OECD countries. The largest source countries of emigrants were Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Ecuador. The region hosted 4.2 million migrants, mainly from countries within the region. The main host countries include Mexico, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Remittances to the region amounted to $67 billion in 2015, while outward remittances were $6 billion in 2014.

Migrants from the Middle East and North Africa region totaled 23.9 million, nearly 38 percent of whom were living in OECD countries and nearly 31 percent were living within the region. The largest sources of emigrants were West Bank and Gaza, Syria, Egypt, Morocco and Iraq. The region hosted 11.7 million immigrants, mainly from Jordan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Libya. Remittances to the region amounted to $52 billion in 2015.The region’s high-income Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) have seen a significant increase in migration inflows in the past few years, mostly from South and East Asia. These countries accounted for $98 billion in outward remittances in 2014.

Migrants from South Asia totaled 37.1 million, of whom 20.6 percent were living in OECD countries and nearly 43 percent were in high-income non-OECD countries (such as the GCC). The largest source countries of migrants were India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. The region hosted 12.4 million migrants the majority of whom were from within the region. Remittances to South Asian countries amounted to $123 billion in 2015, while outward remittances were $16 billion in 2014.

Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa totaled 23.2 million, of whom 26 percent were living in OECD countries and 65.6 percent were living within the region. The largest source countries of emigrants were Somalia, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire. The region hosted 18 million migrants. The majority of migrants from Africa (particularly from the poorer countries) go to other African countries, mainly to South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia. Remittances to the region amounted to $35 billion in 2015, while outward remittances were $4 billion in 2014.

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