Understanding the bigger picture


Understanding the bigger picture

To see the real facts about migration, it helps to step back and look at the bigger picture.

Migration is a fact. Currently there are over 232 million international migrants  in the world, making up almost 3% of the world’s population.

Contrary to common belief migration is not driven primarily by poverty. Many of the leading source countries of migrants are emerging economies that are currently developing and integrating into the world economy.

Along with significant changes in labour force structures in developed countries, migrants today also provide a critical role in fulfilling demands that local workforces are unable to meet. Workforces in developed countries have in many cases become more educated, leaving unmet demands for labour in agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors.

Reality versus perception

Perception: Migrants are poor people from the south moving to rich countries in the north.
The reality is: Adult migrants moving South to the North represent only 40% of the global total. About 33% of migrants move between countries in the South, 22% between countries in the North and 5% from the North to the South.  Migration between developing countries is almost equal to migration from developing to developed countries.

Perception: Migrants steal jobs from their host country.
The reality is: Migration creates jobs. According to OECD research, migrants expand the domestic market and create a job for every one they occupy. In the United States, for example, immigrants were responsible for nearly one third of economic growth in the period from 2007 to 2013.

Perception: Migrants are welfare cheats and benefit scroungers
The reality is: Most migrants pay much more into the public purse than they take from it. Research in the UK, Canada, Germany, Greece, Portugal and Spain shows that migrants are less or equally dependent on public funds than locals.

Perception: Migration is all about money
The reality is: The decision to migrate is mostly about lifestyle factors. People move worldwide to pursue an education, gain or share work experience or be closer to family and loved ones. Economics are important but, in most cases, not the driving factor.

Perception: Developed countries are overcrowded and cannot take any more immigrants.
The reality is: The growth in native population in most developed countries is actually in decline. Migration is key to supporting population levels and providing a base of working age people to support a growing number of retirees.

“International migrants” are persons living outside their country of birth or citizenship.
IOM World Migration Report, 2013. Migrant Well-Being and Development
Ibid.
UN Report of the Secretary General, International Migration and Development, UN General Assembly 60th Sessions, May 2006.