Migration is the world’s next major crisis – there is an influx of people at the gates, hordes of refugees and migrants are waiting in poor and war torn countries, and our society will be permanently altered by immigrants.
Or so the media would have you believe.
The reality is far less dramatic. In fact, after listening to or reading all the media hype about migration, an analysis of the numbers is … well … an anti-climax. An incredible letdown.
The migrant stock – that is, the number of people, in total, who have moved over international borders and stayed there – represents only 3.3% of the world’s population. Not more.
Of course, 3.3% of the world’s population is small in percentage terms but large in absolute numbers. There are 244 million migrants globally. But the makeup of this population is … again … uneventful.
Refugees are a tiny proportion people moving – there are 24 million refugees globally, representing only 10% of the world’s migrant stock, and 0.3% of the world’s total population.
The majority of people moving are actually going between Western countries. 22% of the world’s migrant stock consists of EU citizens living outside their countries of origin, often in other EU countries.
So statistics about migration are remarkably boring. No peaks, no troughs, no numerical explosions.
If there is a surprise anywhere in the numbers, it is in the names of the sending and receiving countries. The top five immigrant-receiving countries include the usual suspects – the US and Germany – but also Saudi Arabia and Russia. Russia, interestingly, is also in the list of the top five immigrant-sending countries.
On a similar surprising note, most migration is not inter-continental. The hordes are not beating down the doors of Europe and North America – they’re beating down the doors of the countries next door. Of the top 5 migration routes, 4 are intra-continental; the top migration route takes place within Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Migration within sub-Saharan Africa also represents one of the top 5 migration routes. The role of GCC countries in migration is also often under-represented; the GCC represents the third largest region in terms of destination countries for migrants.
So. Migration. No hordes. Nobody beating down your door. Just a trickle of people, going, not across continents, but next door.
Not a bang, but a whimper.