Emigration and immigrants have been a worldwide political hotbed issue in recent years, (especially in the United States during the 2016 Presidential Campaigns), because millions of people have migrated from their homes to other countries. Some migrants have moved voluntarily, seeking economic opportunities. Others have been forced from their homes by political or religious turmoil, persecution or war and have left their countries to seek asylum elsewhere. Does this scenario sound familiar to those of us who have studied our ancestry? Sure it does.
Fifteen years ago, on February 28, 2001, the United Nations General Assembly adopted December 18th as International Migrants Day, so I reached out to a couple of credible fact finders to provide us some key findings on the topic. Hopefully, the information that follows will clarify at least some of the issues in and around the topic of immigration, emigration, and international migrants.
Max Galka graduated from The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology at the University of Pennsylvania:
This millennial entrepreneur from New York City, is fascinated by data visualization and the ways that data are transforming our understanding of the world–past, present, and future (like me). I first got into data visualizations about 5 years ago but never went as far with them as I would have liked. Max’s accomplishments in this arena quickly made him one of my idols and I keep up with him primarily on social media.
Max’s map below animates the numbers who emigrated to the United States since 1820–just 30 years after the first Census of the United States which recorded about 4 million people. Max has the following to say about his animated map:
“Since 1820, a total of 79 million people from around the world have emigrated to the United States and become lawful permanent residents. The animated map below displays them all. The brightness of a country corresponds to its total migration to the U.S. during the time periods shown.”
- Today’s population according to the U.S. Census Bureau is estimated at over 325,000,000. In 1820, the year the animated map begins, the population of the United States was less than 10 million. It goes to show, we are all immigrants.
- Initially, the bulk of immigration comes from Western Europe (Ireland, Germany, and the U.K.). And, over time, the largest source of immigration follows a clear trend through the world.
- 1880 starts the next wave from further east in Europe (Italy, Russia, and Hungary).
- Throughout the 20th Century, most of the Immigration arrives from the Americas (Canada and Mexico).
- And finally, the last few decades have seen a rise in immigration from Asia (China and the Philippines).
You also may be interested in Mr. Galka’s latest project Blueshift. Blueshift delivers a tool for designing dynamic maps, like the one that he created, above. (I’m hoping this is my opportunity to take my data visualizations further, too.) And Max also runs FOIA Mapper, which aims to open up “hidden” government databases using the Freedom of Information Act.
From Pew Research Center’s Fact Tank Reports:
Fact Tank is Pew Research Center’s real-time platform dedicated to finding news in the numbers. Launched in mid-2013, Fact Tank is written by experts who combine the rigorous research and quality storytelling for which the center is known to help readers understand the trends shaping the nation and the globe.
5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.–according to Pew Research Center’s December 15, 2016 Fact Tank Report:
How many international migrants are there? Where are they from? Where do they live?
If all of the world’s international migrants (people living in a country that is different from their country or territory of birth) lived in a single country, it would be the world’s fifth largest, with around 244 million people. Overall, international migrants make up 3.3% of the world’s population today.
International migrants are dispersed from across the world, with most having moved from middle-income to high-income countries. Top origins of international migrants include India (15.6 million), Mexico (12.3 million), Russia (10.6 million), China (9.5 million) and Bangladesh (7.2 million). See: International Migrants by Country
Among destination countries, the U.S. has more international migrants than any other country. It is home to about one-in-five international migrants (46.6 million). Other top destinations of migrants include Germany (12.0 million), Russia (11.6 million), Saudi Arabia (10.2 million) and the United Kingdom (8.5 million).
But absolute numbers don’t tell the whole migration story. For example, while the U.S. has the most immigrants in the world, only 14% of the country’s population is foreign born. This immigrant share is considerably lower than that in several Persian Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, where three-in-four or more people are international migrants. Moreover, top destination countries like Australia (28% foreign born) and Canada (22% foreign born) have much larger immigrant shares of their total population than the U.S.
Is international migration increasing?
It has increased substantially in terms of absolute numbers, but less so as a share of the world’s current population. The absolute number of international migrants has grown considerably over the past 50 years, from about 79 million in 1960 to nearly 250 million in 2015, a 200% increase. So by population size, there are far more international migrants today.
But the world’s population has also grown during that time, rising nearly 150% from about 3 billion to 7.3 billion. As a result, the share of the world’s population living outside their countries of birth has increased some during the past 50 or so years. In 1960, 2.6% of the world’s population did not live in their birth countries. In 2015, that share was 3.3%. As a share of the world’s population, the 0.7-percentage-point increase in the world’s migrant share is hardly insignificant. Nonetheless, the vast majority (nearly 97%) of the world’s population has not moved across international borders.
What have been some of the major pathways for international migration?
The impact of migration has been large for counties that are part of some of the world’s most-used migrant corridors, particularly when it comes to pathways between a single origin country and a single destination country.
For example, the Mexico-U.S. migration corridor has been one of the world’s most heavily traveled in recent decades. Today, about 12 million people born in Mexico are living in the U.S. This number has declined in recent years as net flows have reversed, with more Mexican immigrants leaving the U.S. than entering it. Also, the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants in the U.S. has declined by 1 million between 2007 and 2014, even as the total number of unauthorized immigrants has stabilized at about 11.1 million.
While migration of Mexicans to the U.S. has been decreasing, Mexico is an important transit country for other U.S.-bound Latin Americans. U.S. border apprehensions of families and unaccompanied children have more than doubled between fiscal years 2015 and 2016, with most coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. A rising number of Cubans have also entered the U.S. via Mexico.
As of 2015, nearly 3.5 million Indians lived in the UAE, the world’s second-largest migration corridor. Unlike the Mexico-U.S. corridor, the number of Indians living in the UAE and other Persian Gulf countries has increased substantially during the past decade, from 2 million in 1990 to more than 8 million in 2015. Most have migrated for economic opportunities in these oil-rich countries.
The Middle East has the fastest-growing migrant population. When counting both international migrants and displaced migrants within their own countries (internally displaced persons), the number of migrants in the Middle East doubled during the past decade, from 25 million in 2005 to 54 million in 2015.
How many among the world’s migrants are refugees? Are they increasing in number?
Refugees are persons who cross international borders to seek protection from persecution, war and violence. Their total number has also increased from 50 years ago. Not including Palestinian refugees, there were about 1.7 million refugees worldwide in 1960, and about 16 million in 2015, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The number of refugees in 2015, however, is slightly less than the early 1990s following the fall of the Berlin Wall. As of 2015, refugees account for only about 8% of all international migrants.
Refugees are a subset of displaced persons worldwide. The latest UN estimates suggest that more than 60 million, or nearly 1 in 100 people worldwide, are forcibly displaced from their homes, the highest number and share of the world’s population since World War II. As of 2015, nearly two-thirds (63%) of the world’s displaced population still lived in their birth countries.
The Syrian conflict has dramatically increased the number of displaced people since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. About one-fifth of the world’s displaced, or 12.5 million, were born in Syria. Colombia, meanwhile, has more displaced people than any other country: nearly 7 million, most of whom are internally displaced because of the country’s decades-long conflict.
5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.–according to Pew Research Center’s November 3, 2016 Fact Tank Report:
1 There were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2014, a total unchanged from 2009 and accounting for 3.5% of the nation’s population. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.
2 The U.S. civilian workforce included 8 million unauthorized immigrants in 2014, accounting for 5% of those who were working or were unemployed and looking for work, according to new Pew Research Center estimates. The number was unchanged from 2009 and down slightly from 8.2 million in 2007. The share of unauthorized immigrants in the civilian labor force was down slightly from 2009 (5.2%) and 2007 (5.4%). Compared with their 5% share of the civilian workforce overall, unauthorized immigrants are overrepresented in farming occupations (26%) and construction occupations (15%). In all industries and occupations, though, they are outnumbered by U.S.-born workers.
3 Mexicans made up 52% of all unauthorized immigrants in 2014, though their numbers had been declining in recent years. There were 5.8 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. that year, down from 6.4 million in 2009, according to the latest Pew Research Center estimates. Meanwhile, the number of unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico grew by 325,000 since 2009, to an estimated 5.3 million in 2014. Populations went up most for unauthorized immigrants from Asia and Central America, but the number also ticked up for those from sub-Saharan Africa. Increases in the number of unauthorized immigrants from other countries mostly offset the decline in the number from Mexico.
4 Six states accounted for 59% of unauthorized immigrants in 2014: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. But some state populations had changed since 2009, despite the stable trend at the national level. From 2009 to 2014, the unauthorized immigrant population decreased in seven states: Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina. In all of them, the decline was due to a decrease in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico. In six states, the unauthorized immigrant population rose over the same time period: Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. In all of these but Louisiana, the increases were due to growth in unauthorized immigrant populations from nations other than Mexico. In Louisiana, it was an increase in Mexican unauthorized immigrants that drove the overall increase in the number of unauthorized immigrants.
5 A rising share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for at least a decade. About two-thirds (66%) of adults in 2014 had been in the U.S. at least that long, compared with 41% in 2005. A declining share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for less than five years – 14% of adults in 2014, compared with 31% in 2005. In 2014, unauthorized immigrant adults had lived in the U.S. for a median of 13.6 years, meaning that half had been in the country at least that long. Only 7% of Mexican unauthorized immigrants had been in the U.S. for less than five years in 2014, compared with 22% of those from all other countries.