India leads in number of overseas migrants

A record 17.5 million Indians live overseas, according to a new study by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

The study, International Migrant Stock 2019, sows that there are a total of 272 million migrants worldwide in 2019. The report which estimates the number of international migrants by age, sex and origin for all countries and areas of the world, reveals that the top 10 countries of origin account for one-third of all international migrants.

In 2019, with 17.5 million persons living abroad, India was the leading country of origin of international migrants, followed by Mexicans who formed the second largest diaspora with 11.8 million living abroad. China came in third place with 10.7 million Chinese living overseas. Russia with 10.5 million, Syria with 8.2 million, Bangladesh with 7.8 million, Pakistan (6.3 million), Ukraine (5.9 million), the Philippines (5.4 million) and Afghanistan (5.1 million) made up the top-ten countries of migrant origin.

At the country level, about half of all international migrants reside in just 10 countries, with the United States of America hosting the largest number of international migrants (51 million), equal to about 19 percent of the world’s total. Germany and Saudi Arabia host the second and third largest number of migrants (13 million each), followed by Russia (12 million), the United Kingdom (10 million), the United Arab Emirates (9 million), France, Canada and Australia (around 8 million each) and Italy (6 million).

UN Under-Secretary-General for DESA Liu Zhenmin said that “These data are critical for understanding the important role of migrants and migration in the development of both countries of origin and destination. Facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people will contribute much to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report added that forced displacements across international borders continues to rise.

Between 2010 and 2017, the global number of refugees and asylum seekers increased by about 13 million, accounting for close to a quarter of the increase in the number of all international migrants. Northern Africa and Western Asia hosted around 46 percent of the global number of refugees and asylum seekers, followed by sub-Saharan Africa (21%).

Turning to the gender composition, women comprise slightly less than half of all international migrants in 2019. The share of women and girls in the global number of international migrants fell slightly, from 49 percent in 2000 to 48 percent in 2019. The share of migrant women was highest in Northern America (52%) and Europe (51%), and lowest in sub-Saharan Africa (47%) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (36%).

In terms of age, one out of every seven international migrants is below the age of 20 years.