XM -Blog

The Most Popular Destinations For OFWs

July 10th, 2017

The Most Popular Destinations For OFWs

According to the latest figures available from the United Nations, there are over five million overseas Filipino workers- or OFWs as they’re more commonly known- spread around the world. Considering just over 100 million people live in the Philippines1, that means OFWs account for 5% of the country’s total population. Filipinos move abroad for various reasons- in the past, migration was seen as a way to relieve a stagnant economy, while many Filipinos left due to frustration with corrupt politicians. Meanwhile, youth unemployment is relatively high at slightly under 14%2.

So what are the most popular destinations for OFWs?

North America

The favourite region by some distance is North America which is home to nearly fifty percent of all OFWs. The vast majority head for the United States where there are just under 1.9 million, while over half a million reside in Canada.


The next most popular destination is Asia. Western Asia hosts more than 1.5 million OFWs with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates home to around half a million each. Qatar and Kuwait have sizeable communities too. As you might expect, East Asia is also a popular destination. The country with the biggest share of OFWs in this region is Japan with just over 210,000. China (including Hong Kong) comes in second with 117,914.


Europe is the third most popular region with 515,426 OFWs. Italy is the preferred destination with 143,457, while there are just short of 140,000 OFWs in the UK and 56,250 in Germany. Other popular European countries include Spain (41,334) and France (15,224).


Oceania is the fourth most popular region, home to 307,836 OFWs. Once again, the majority are concentrated in one country, in this case Australia (222,340). Just short of 40,000 live in New Zealand, while Guam is the next most popular destination with slightly over 29,000.

Latin America and Africa

Latin America and Africa are the least popular regions for OFWs, hosting just over 8,000 each. The majority in Africa end up in countries in the North of the continent, while more than half the OFWs in Latin America live in the Caribbean.

With this number of migrants working abroad, it’s no surprise the Philippines receives the third largest amount of remittance inflows after China and India. Nearly $30 billion was sent home by OFWs in 2016 according to the World Bank, which made up slightly less than 10% of the country’s gross domestic product (the universal measure of economic growth)3.

If you’re an OFW and you’re looking for an affordable way to send money to the Philippines, make sure you check out Xpress Money.



1. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/philippines-population/

2. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.UEM.1524.ZS

3. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/migrationremittancesdiasporaissues/brief/migration-remittances-data