International Migrant Stock 2019: Wall Chart

Infographic
from UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Published on 17 Sep 2019 View Original

Levels and trends in international migration

In 2019, the number of international migrants worldwide was nearly 272 million, up from 221 million in 2010 and 174 million in 2000. More than half of all international migrants lived in Europe (82 million) or Northern America (59 million).

Northern Africa and Western Asia hosted the third largest number of international migrants (49 million), followed by subSaharan Africa (24 million), Central and Southern Asia (20 million), Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (18 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (12 million), and Oceania (9 million).

About 3.5 per cent of the world population were international migrants, compared to 2.8 per cent in 2000. The share of international migrants in total population varied considerably across regions.

Oceania (21.2 per cent), Northern America (16.0 per cent), Europe (11.0 per cent), and Northern Africa and Western Asia (9.4 per cent) recorded the highest proportions of international migrants in the total population. By contrast, international migrants represented 2.2 per cent of the total population in sub-Saharan Africa, 1.8 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1.0 per cent in Central and Southern Asia, and 0.8 per cent in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

In many parts of the world, migration occurred primarily between countries within the same region. Most international migrants in sub-Saharan Africa (88.9 per cent), Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (83.1 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (72.5 per cent), Central and Southern Asia (63.0 per cent), and Europe (51.6) originated from another country in the same region where they resided. By contrast, the majority of international migrants that lived in Northern America (97.5 per cent), Oceania (87.9 per cent), and Northern Africa and Western Asia (59.4 per cent) were born in a region other than the one they were residing in.

In 2019, two thirds of all international migrants were living in just 20 countries. The largest number of international migrants (51 million) resided in the United States of America, equal to about 19 per cent of the world’s total. Germany and Saudi Arabia hosted the second and third largest numbers of migrants worldwide (around 13 million each), followed by the Russian Federation (12 million), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (10 million), and the United Arab Emirates (9 million). Of the 20 main destination countries of international migrants worldwide, seven were in Europe, four in Northern Africa and Western Asia, three in Central and Southern Asia, two in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, two in Northern America, and one each in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.

Demographic characteristics of international migration

Women comprised slightly less than half of all international migrants. The share of women in the total number of international migrants fell from 49.3 per cent in 2000 to 47.9 per cent in 2019. The share of migrant women varied across regions. In 2019, the percentage of females among all international migrants was highest in Northern America (51.8 per cent) and Europe (51.4 per cent). Oceania (50.4 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (49.9 per cent), Central and Southern Asia (49.4 per cent), and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (49.3 per cent) hosted an almost equal proportion of female and male migrants. The proportion of female migrants was lowest in sub-Saharan Africa (47.5 per cent) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (35.5 per cent).

The median age of international migrants worldwide was 39 years in 2019. International migrants living in sub-Saharan Africa were the youngest, with a median age of 30.9 years in 2019, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (33.8 years), Northern Africa and Western Asia (34.0 years), and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (35.7 years). In contrast, migrants were older in Central and Southern Asia (40.8 years), Europe (42.7 years), Oceania (42.9 years), and Northern America (43.5 years).

One out of every seven international migrants was below the age of 20. In 2019, the number of international migrants below age 20 reached 38 million, or 13.9 per cent of the global migrant stock. Sub-Saharan Africa hosted the highest proportion of young persons among all international migrants (27.3 per cent), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern Africa and Western Asia (21.6 per cent each). The share of those under age 20 among all migrants was smaller in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (13.3 per cent), Central and Southern Asia (13.2 per cent), Oceania (11 per cent), Europe, and Northern America (8.8 per cent each).

Three out of every four international migrants were of working age. In 2019, 202 million international migrants, equivalent to 74.2 per cent of the global migrant stock, were between the ages of 20 and 64. More than three quarters of international migrants were of working age in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (77.4 per cent), Europe (76.8 per cent), and Northern America (75.1 per cent). The share of persons of working age among all international migrants was smaller in Northern Africa and Western Asia (73.9 per cent), Central and Southern Asia (70.9 per cent), Oceania (70.3 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (68.9 per cent), and sub-Saharan Africa (68.2 per cent).

In 2019, approximately 32 million international migrants, or 11.8 per cent of the global migrant stock, were aged 65 years or over. Oceania recorded the highest share of older persons among all international migrants in 2019 (18.8 per cent), followed by Northern America, Central and Southern Asia, and Europe (16.2 per cent, 15.9 per cent, and 14.4 per cent, respectively).

International migrants aged 65 or over represented 9.5 per cent of all migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean, 9.2 per cent in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, 4.5 per cent in Northern Africa and Western Asia, and 4.5 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

In 2017, the number of refugees and asylum-seekers worldwide was nearly 29 million. Two thirds of all refugees and asylum-seekers lived in Northern Africa and Western Asia (13.1 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (5.9 million). Central and Southern Asia as well as Europe each hosted 3.6 million refugees and asylum-seekers. The remaining four regions hosted a combined total of 2.5 million refugees and asylum-seekers.

Around 10.6 per cent of all international migrants were refugees and asylum-seekers. The share of refugees and asylumseekers in the total number of migrants was an estimated 27 per cent in Northern Africa and Western Asia, 25.2 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, and 18.4 per cent in Central and Southern Asia. By contrast, refugees and asylum-seekers represented 5.2 per cent of international migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean, 4.4 per cent in Europe, 3.5 per cent in Eastern and SouthEastern Asia, 1.9 per cent in Northern America, and 1.2 per cent in Oceania.
Migrant remittances In 2018, migrant remittances reached an estimated US$688 billion globally.

Remittances to developing countries have risen from around US$76 billion in 2000 to an estimated US$498 billion in 2018. Countries in Europe recorded the highest inflow of remittances in 2018 (US$173 billion), followed by Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (US$155 billion), Central and Southern Asia (US$142 billion), Latin America and the Caribbean (US$90 billion), Northern Africa and Western Asia (US$69 billion), subSaharan Africa (US$46 billion), Northern America (US$9 billion), and Oceania (US$4 billion).

Legal instruments related to international migration Ratification of legal instruments related to international migration increased, but remained uneven. By 2019, the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol had been ratified by 146 and 147 Member States or Permanent Observer States of the United Nations, respectively. Likewise, 147 countries had ratified the protocol seeking to stem migrant smuggling, and 172 countries had ratified the protocol to combat human trafficking. However, only 54 United Nations Member States, or around one quarter of all countries, had ratified the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Two global compacts related to international migration were adopted by a majority of United Nations Member States in December 2018. Of 193 Member States, 181 states voted in favour of the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees, while 152 states voted in favour of the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.