2019 International Migration and Displacement Trends and Policies Report to the G20

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Executive summary

Key migration, forced displacement and integration trends

  • More than 10 million people migrate permanently or temporarily to G20 countries in 2018.

  • Preliminary data indicate a small increase in overall migration flows to G20 countries in 2018, despite a small decline notably in Australia, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

  • In 2016, over 4 million international students were enrolled in tertiary education in the G20. More than half of international students in the G20 come from another G20 country.

  • At mid-2018, the global refugee population stood at 25.7 million, including 5.5 million Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate. G20 countries hosted 7.3 million refugees, representing about 36 per cent of all refugees under UNHCR’s mandate. About half of them were in Turkey. To address the challenges associated with forced displacement and humanitarian crises the question of solidarity and responsibility sharing remains at the top of the international agenda.

  • During the first half of 2018, there were an estimated 879 600 claims for asylum lodged globally, including 646 400 in G20 countries.

  • On average, in the G20 area, foreign-born individuals are more likely to be employed than their native-born peers (66% vs. 62%). In a majority of G20 countries, migrant women have lower employment rates that both native-born women and their male counterparts.

  • New OECD on migrant stocks show that in 2015/16, a fifth of 150 million foreign-born residents aged 15 and over in G20 countries come from just five countries (Mexico, India, Bangladesh, Ukraine and China).
    Almost one in three foreign-born have a tertiary level of education.

  • Some countries in Central America and the Caribbean or Africa have emigration rates of tertiary graduates to G20 countries that exceed 40% and nearly 30 countries have rates above 20%.

  • What is more, there is a marked difference in the emigration rates of tertiary graduates by sex, particularly for those from non-G20 countries. The emigration rate for tertiary educated women is 20.4% while that for men is 16.4%.

  • As compared to other financial flows, remittance volumes to developing countries are large and have risen steadily over the last 3 decades from USD 126 billion (1990) to USD 528 billion (2018).

  • Remittance costs continue to be over the SDG target of 3% globally.

Implications for migration and refugee movements linked to ongoing demographic and technological trends

  • The median age of the population in G20 countries has increased on average by 10 years between 1980 and 2015; it is projected to increase further by at least seven more years between 2015 and 2050.

  • International migration, notably labour migration, is often seen as one way, in conjunction with other policies, to address demographic imbalances but evidence shows that it cannot be the only policy response to population ageing in G20 countries.

  • Matching labour surplus in origin countries with skills needs in destination countries is challenging and will require reinforcing the links between labour migration management and skills development tools.

  • Automation may reduce the long term need for international recruitment of low skilled workers but may have some paradoxical effects in the short and medium term. New forms of ‘digital labour migration’ are being created through the outsourcing of tasks and work across national borders that also need to be regulated.

  • Digitalisation is impacting migrant workers through the use of digital migration management and skills matching platforms, the development of apps as awareness raising and tools to facilitate remittances transfers.

  • New technologies are also affecting immigration management and enforcement notably through biometric technologies.