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DESA: 272 Million International Migrants in 2019

October 9, 2019

The Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) reported that the number of international migrants rose by 51 million between 2010 and 2019, from 221 million to 272 million. Migrants were 3.5 percent of the world’s 7.7 billion people in 2019.

Europe had 82 million international migrants, Northern America 59 million, and Northern Africa and Western Asia 49 million. Europe has 10 percent of the world’s people and 30 percent of the world’s migrants, while North America has five percent of the world’s people and 22 percent of the world’s migrants. About 70 percent of Europe’s international migrants were born in another European country, while few of the international migrants in North America were born in North America.

There are several ways to classify countries by their level of income. The UN’s “more developed” countries had 152 million or 55 percent of international migrants in 2019, while the World Bank’s “high income” countries (with per capita incomes of $12,000 or more) had 176 million or 65 percent of international migrants.

Half of international migrants are in 10 countries. The US has 51 million migrants or 19 percent of the total (the UN considers Puerto Ricans who have moved to the mainland to be international migrants), followed by Germany and Saudi Arabia, 13 million each, Russia, 12 million, the United Kingdom, 10 million, the United Arab Emirates, 9 million, France, Canada, and Australia, 8 million each, and Italy, 6 million.

A third of international migrants originate from ten countries, led by India with 18 million persons abroad and followed by Mexico with 12 million, China, 11 million, Russia, 10 million, and Syria, 8 million.

Gulf Oil Exporters, Australia, Canada, and Switzerland have some of the highest shares of migrants in their populations

Source: UN DESA. 2019 revision of International Migrant Stock.

South-South Migration slightly exceeds South-North Migration

Source: UN DESA. 2019 revision of International Migrant Stock.

The top 10 countries had half of the world’s 272 million international migrants in 2019

Source: UN DESA. 2019 revision of International Migrant Stock.

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