Will the scale of international migration increase over the coming years?

There have never been so many people living in a country other than the one they were born in. However, the proportion of migrants in the world’s population has increased only slightly, from 2.8% in 2000 to 3.5% in 2019.

The number of international migrants—that is, people living in a country that is not the one they were born in—reached 272 million in 2019. 48% of international migrants are women. According to the most recent United Nations statistics, there are 38 million child migrants. Three in four migrants are aged 20 to 64 and of working age. Approximately 31% of all international migrants live in Asia, 30% in Europe, 26% in the Americas, 10% in Africa, and 3% in the Oceania.

It is hard to predict the magnitude of upcoming migration movements. Those movements will probably be similar to today’s: active flows between historically linked regions, and increases in employment immigration among newly globalized younger generations. But new flows could also arise from civil wars, famines, and unpredictable disasters. Harsher international relations may also work to restrict border population movements.

No one anticipated the heavy migration flows toward southern European: Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Once known as departure or emigration countries, they are now seeing rising numbers of immigrants. Likewise, Morocco and Tunisia are seeing from great numbers of sub-Saharan African migrants arrive; headed for Europe, these people they get blocked at the EU border and end up settling lastingly in North African countries.

Source: United Nations, DESA, Population Divisions (2019). International Migrant Stock 2019 (United Nations database)

Update: 05/06/2020