Government of India, India, Population, Stories, World

Global Migration Report: India is the source & USA is the destination of most migrants in the World


As per the International migrant stock 2019 report released recently by the UN, the share of migrants in the global population has slightly increased compared to 2015. India is the source & USA is the destination of most migrants in the world.


All through the known history, humans have been migrating to different places. Over the past few decades, advancements in transportation and communication have made global opportunities accessible to a greater human population.

Whether it is the availability of better living options or escape from a turmoil in the country of origin, the number of people migrating to different countries has seen a remarkable increase over the last few decades.

However, the trends aren’t even across the globe with various factors influencing migration and population. In this story, we explore the numbers and the trends with respect to international immigration.

Share of migrant population among World’s population is on the rise

As per the data provided in International Migrant Stock 2019 report, published by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division, the share of migrant population in the total world population is 3.5% in mid-2019. This is a noticeable increase from 2015 where the share was 3.4% and from 2010, when it was 3.2%.

While the increase of share appears to be marginal, the growth rate of migrant population is higher than the global population growth rate.

What about the absolute numbers of Migrant population?

As of mid-2019, the total World’s migrant population is 27.16 crores, whereas in 2015 it was 24.88 crores i.e. an increase by 9.15%. Meanwhile, the Global population as of mid-2019 is 771.31 crores while it was 737.97 cores in 2015 i.e. an increase by 4.52%. The higher growth rate of migrant population contributes to the increased share of migrant population. This trend of higher growth rate in migrant population compared to world population growth rate is observed since 2000.

It can also be observed that there is a fall in migrant population growth rate compared to previous years, in line with the falling growth rate of global population.  

Increase in share of migrant population in more developed regions

The UN report groups the countries into – ‘more developed regions (MDRs)’ and ‘less developed regions (LDRs)’.

As per International Migrant Stock 2019 report, 12% of the population in MDRs is migrant population. The share of migrant population in MDRs has gone up compared to the previous years, wherein it was 11.2%, 10.6% and 9.8% in 2015, 2010 and 2005 respectively.

On the other hand, the share of migrant population in LDRs is less with only 1.9% as of mid-2019. Earlier it was 1.8%, 1.6% and 1.2% in 2015,2010 and 2005 respectively.

Over the years, there is a marginal increase in the share of migrant population even in the less developed regions. There is a fall in the share of migrant population in Least Developed countries within the Less developed regions and an increase in the share of migrant population in other countries within this region. This indicates migration from least developed countries into countries comparatively better off than them albeit being less developed themselves.

The World Bank categorizes the countries as per income. As per UN’s data on migration, the share of migrants in the population of High-Income countries is 14%, up from 13% in 2015 and 12.1% in 2010. This share has shown a constant increase over the decades.

Among the Middle-Income countries, the share of migrants among ‘Upper Middle-Income countries’ shows a marginal increase with a corresponding decrease in ‘Lower Middle-Income Countries’.

Low Income countries have seen a decline in the migrant population share over the years.

It is remarkable to note that in 1990, migrant population was 7.5% of the total population in High-Income countries which has nearly doubled (14%) in two decades (by mid-2019).

USA has the highest migrant population followed by Germany and Saudi Arabia

As of Mid-2019, United States of America has the highest migrant population in the world with 5.07 crores. This accounts for 15.4% of total population of USA. In 1990, the migrant population of USA was 2.3 crores which accounted for around 9.2% of the US population.

Germany and Saudi Arabia have the second highest migrant population in the world with 1.313 crores and 1.312 crores respectively as of mid-2019. They are followed by Russian Federation, United Kingdom, UAE, France, Canada, Australia and Italy completing the top 10 countries.

These top 10 countries constitute half (50.36%) of the world migrant population.

While India ranks 13th with 51.54 lakh migrant population, it is negligible in context of overall population of India where the migrants make up only 0.4% of the total population.

India is the country of origin for the highest number of migrants

International Migrant Stock’s By destination and origin report indicates that the highest number of migrant population has India as their country of origin followed by Mexico, China and Russian Federation.

A total of 1.75 crore migrants have their country of origin as India. Mexico, China, Russia have been mentioned as the country of origin by 1.17 crore, 1.07 crore and 1.04 crore migrants respectively. Syria is the country of origin for 5th highest population at 82.25 lakhs.

32.87% of the total migrant population in the world belong to top 10 countries. Palestine which like Syria is another country amidst conflict is the origin of 38.9 lakh migrants making it the 16th in the list of countries.

UAE, USA and Saudi Arabia are destination countries for highest number of migrant Indians

As far as Indians are concerned, 34.19 lakh Indian migrants have UAE as their country of destination followed by USA with 26.61 lakhs.  Saudi Arabia has the third highest Indian migrant population with 24.4 lakhs as of mid-2019.

Data from the UN report further indicates that Pakistan is the country with fourth highest Indian migrant population with 15.88 lakh. Other Middle Eastern countries like Oman, Kuwait and Qatar rank 5th, 6th and 9th respectively in the list of destinations for Indian migrants.

UK, Canada and Australia make the rest of top 10 countries with the highest Indian migrant population.  The Middle Eastern countries of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar have 51.44% of the total Indian migrant population.

Influx of Migrants is into countries with higher incomes & better opportunities

As per the data on international migration, the trend clearly suggests that people are migrating to the countries which have a higher income than their own.

At a Global level, USA with its vast opportunities is the country with the highest number of immigrants from across the world. USA has migrants from 150 out of 232 countries enumerated in the report.

Other top 10 destination countries are also among the highest income countries in the world. Apart from being the global destinations, there are countries within a region which are proffered options for migration (like the Middle eastern countries for other Asian countries especially South Asia).

A trend as highlighted earlier is that people from least developed countries move to countries which are comparably better off even though these countries are not themselves developed.

Overall trends suggest influx of people towards countries with comparably better incomes & opportunities.


About Author

HR professional, now focused on contributing towards a positive change in the society. Passionate reader. Loves writing and photography and to narrate stories through words and pictures.