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Global Migrant Flows And How They Correspond With Remittances

April 4th, 2017

Global migrant flows and how they correspond with remittances

Immigration is generally a positive influence on a host country. Not only does it bring economic benefits by boosting the work force, raising productivity and introducing new skills, it also enriches the country’s cultural diversity. So in April, we’re going to publish a series of blog posts celebrating the global movement of people, starting with an overview of migration patterns and how they correspond with remittance flows.

Nearly 250 million people live outside their country of birth, according to the Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, published by the World Bank. That equates to 3.4% of the world’s population 1.

The United States is the most popular destination by some distance, hosting 46.6 million immigrants, followed by Saudi Arabia (10.2 million), Germany (12 million) and Russia (11.6 million). Meanwhile, the countries with the most emigrants- people who leave their own country in order to settle permanently in another – are India with 15.5 million, then Mexico (12.3 million) Russia (10.5 million) and China (9.5 million)2.

The top migration corridor- a corridor represents the flow of migrants between two countries- is from Mexico to the USA at 12 million, followed by Russia to Ukraine (3.2 million), Bangladesh to India (3.2 million) and Ukraine to Russia (3.2 million). However, the figures for migration between Russia and Ukraine (and other former Soviet states for that matter) are misleading as many natives became migrants without leaving their country of birth when international borders were redrawn3.

Migration is greatest between countries in the southern hemisphere at 38% of the total, followed closely by people moving from the south to the north (34%) 4.

As the Factbook also covers remittances, we thought it would be interesting to compare the flow of people with the flow of money.

As you might have guessed from the figures above, India receives the highest value of remittances at a little over $68.9 billion, followed by China with £64 billion. The Philippines comes in third with $28.5 billion, although it’s only ranked seventh among the countries where people leave (six million). Mexico is fourth ($26.1 billion) but Russia ($6.8 billion) and Ukraine ($5.8 billion), the countries making up the other two most popular migration corridors, rank much lower5.

France comes in fifth, receiving $23.3 billion in remittances, even though it’s one of the lowest ranked countries for emigration (2.1 million). However, France is the seventh most popular destination country, hosting 7.7 million immigrants, which probably explains why it receives a relatively high amount of remittance inflows6.

Keep an eye out for part two in this series, where we’ll look at the best countries for expats to build a career.