The Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 updates the 2008 edition
of the Factbook with additional data for 71 countries collected from
various sources, including national censuses, labor force surveys,
population registers, and other national sources. The Factbook attempts
to present numbers and facts behind the stories of international
migration and remittances, drawing on authoritative, publicly available
data. It provides a snapshot of statistics on immigration, emigration,
skilled emigration, and remittance flows for 210 countries and 15
regional and income groups. Some interesting facts emerge:
- More than 215 million people, or 3 percent of the world population,
live outside their countries of birth. Current migration flows,
relative to population, are weaker than those of the last decades of
the nineteenth century.
- The top migrant destination countries are the United States, the
Russian Federation, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. The top
immigration countries, relative to population, are Qatar (87 percent),
the United Arab Emirates (70 percent), Kuwait (69 percent), Andorra (64
percent), Cayman Islands (63 percent), and Northern Mariana Islands (62
- The United States is likely to have seen the largest inflows of
migrants between 2005 and 2010, despite the global financial crisis.
The expansion of the European Union led to a surge of migrant flows to
Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom, with a large share from Eastern
- The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Saudi Arabia, United
Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait) have also seen a
significant increase in migrant flows in the last few years, mostly
from South Asia and East Asia. However, immigrant stocks in all regions
started to plateau in 2009-10 because of the global financial
- The volume of South–South migration is larger than migration
from the South to the high-income countries belonging to the
Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
High-income non-OECD countries such as the Gulf countries are also
major destinations for migrants from the South. South–South
migration is significantly larger than South–North migration in
Sub-Saharan Africa (73 percent) and Europe and Central Asia (61
- According to available official data, the Mexico–United
States corridor is the largest migration corridor in the world,
accounting for 11.6 million migrants in 2010. Migration corridors in
the Former Soviet Union — Russia–Ukraine, and
Ukraine–Russia — are the next largest, followed by
Bangladesh–India. In these corridors, natives became migrants
without moving when new international boundaries were drawn.
- Smaller countries tend to have higher rates of skilled emigration.
Almost all physicians trained in Grenada and Dominica have emigrated
abroad. St. Lucia, Cape Verde, Fiji, São Tomé and Principe, and Liberia
are also among the countries with the highest emigration rates of
- Refugees and asylum seekers made up 16.3 million or 8 percent of
international migrants in 2010. The share of refugees in the population
was 14.6 percent in the low-income countries—more than seven
times larger than the share of 2.1 percent in the high-income OECD
countries. Middle East and North Africa had the largest share of
refugees and asylum seekers among immigrants (65 percent), followed by
Sub-Saharan Africa (17 percent), South Asia (20 percent), and East Asia
and Pacific (8.8 percent).
- Worldwide remittance flows are estimated to have exceeded $414
billion in 2009, of which developing countries received $307 billion
(This represents a small decline of 6 percent from the level in 2008).
The true size, including unrecorded flows through formal and informal
channels, is believed to be significantly larger. Recorded remittances
are more than twice as large as official aid and nearly two-thirds of
foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to developing countries.
- In 2009, the top recipient countries of recorded remittances were
India, China, Mexico, the Philippines, and Poland. As a share of GDP,
however, smaller countries such as Tajikistan (50 percent), Tonga (38
percent), Moldova (31 percent), the Kyrgyz Republic (28 percent), and
Lesotho (27 percent) were the largest recipients in 2008.
- Rich countries are the main source of remittances. The United
States is by far the largest, with $46 billion in recorded outward
flows in 2008. Russia ranks as the second largest, followed by
Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.
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