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Statistics Show Migration As A Dynamic Force

UN Statistics Show Migration As A Dynamic Force In Global Development

New York, Sep 13 2006 11:00AM

As preparations for the upcoming first-ever session of the General Assembly on migration and development take shape, national, regional and global statistics made available by the United Nations draw a complex picture of the movement of people between countries in the twenty-first century.

Conceived and scheduled more than two years ago by the General Assembly, the 14–15 September High-level Dialogue follows a period of intense public attention to the cross-border movement of people, and a quickening pace of multilateral talks on international migration.

Three per cent of the world’s population – or 191 million people – lived in a country other than the one in which they were born in 2005, with one third having moved from a developing country to one that is developed, one third moving from one developing nation to another, and another third originating in the developed world, according to an analysis of migῲation and devῥlopment prepared by theᾠUN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (<"">ESA).

A greater share of workers moving to developed countries are college educated, and without migration the size of the labour force in the developed world will begin shrinking drastically beginning in 2010, the analysis said.

A UN compilation of migration statistics from 228 countries and areas indicates that the United States leads the world as a host country, with 38 million migrants in 2005 constituting almost 13 per cent of its population. But the share of the population who are migrants is larger still in Australia (19.6 per cent in 2005) and Canada (18.9 per cent).

In regional terms, however, Europe’s migrant population of 64 million in 2005 is almost 50 per cent greater than the 45 million in Northern America. Western Asia, with its oil producing nations, also hosts a considerable share of the world’s migrants, totaling 22 million in 2005.

Nearly half of the world’s migrants now are women, the UN reports, and they outnumber male migrants in the developed countries.

Remittances, even when used for consumption, stimulate demand and support local enterprises. As a result, the UN estimates that overall, remittances could have an impact equivalent to about half a trillion US dollars.

Despite tensions in many receiving countries, more than 50 per cent of governments surveyed by the UN in 2005 expressed an intention to maintain incoming migrant flows at roughly the same level. Just about 20 per cent had as objective the reduction of incoming flows, but that share was down from 40 per cent in 1996. Six per cent of governments favoured higher levels of immigration in 2005.

This week’s High-level Dialogue will focus on ways to maximize the development benefits of international migration and reduce difficulties.


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