Changing Patterns of Global Migration and Remittances

Phillip Connor, Pew Social Trends, December 17, 2013


Patterns of global migration and remittances have shifted in recent decades, even as both the number of immigrants and the amount of money they send home have grown, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the United Nations and the World Bank.

A rising share of international migrants now lives in today’s high-income countries such as the United States and Germany, while a growing share was born in today’s middle-income nations such as India and Mexico, the analysis finds.

These shifts occurred as the total number of international migrants rose from 154 million in 1990 to 232 million in 2013–but remained steady as a 3% share of the globe’s growing population.

During this period, the U.S. remained the largest destination country by far and increased its share of the world’s migrants. One-in-five (46 million) migrants now live in the U.S., compared with slightly less than one-in-six (23 million) in 1990.

The U.S. is not the only wealthy destination country whose share of the world’s migrants has increased. All told, an estimated 160 million, or 69%, of international migrants now live in high-income countries (nations with an average per capita income of $12,616 or higher), up from 87 million, or 57%, in 1990, the Pew Research analysis finds. These high-income countries, many of them in North America and Europe, may appear increasingly attractive to modern migrants, whose principal reason for moving is to pursue economic opportunity.

Where do today’s migrants come from? Increasingly, they were born in what the World Bank designates as middle-income countries, those with per capita annual income between $1,036 and $12,615. About six-in-ten (135 million) of today’s international migrants were born in such countries, compared with fewer than half (74 million) of all migrants in 1990. Over the same period, the share of immigrants born in high- as well as low-income nations has declined.


Once they move across borders, many migrants send money, known as remittances, back to families in their countries of origin. Despite a marked dip during the 2009 global recession, the overall annual flow of such remittances has nearly tripled since 2000 and now tops $500 billion.

And according to the Pew Research analysis of World Bank data, the rise in the stock of emigrants from middle-income countries has been accompanied by a concomitant increase in the flows of remittances back to middle-income countries.


The economic importance of remittances is larger in poorer countries than in richer ones. Remittances account for 8% of the gross domestic product in low-income nations, 2% in middle-income nations and less than 1% in high-income nations, according to analysis of World Bank data. {snip}


As a Destination, the U.S. Looms Large

Despite global shifts in international migration, one constant remains: The U.S. has the world’s largest number of international migrants.

The number of immigrants in the U.S. doubled from 23 million people in 1990 to 46 million in 2013. During this time, no other country has come close to the number of foreign-born people living within its borders. For example, second-ranked Russia had about 11 million immigrants in both 1990 and 2013 (many of whom had moved within the former USSR prior to 1990). Consequently, the U.S. has bolstered its lead in the number of international migrants, doubling second-place Russia in 1990 and quadrupling it by 2013.


And the U.S. is the top recipient of migrants from about a quarter of the world’s countries. In 1990, the U.S. was the top destination of migrants born in 53 countries. In 2013, that number was about the same at 52 countries.


Even with this growth, the foreign born as a share of the total population is still considerably lower in the U.S. than in a number of other major destination nations. About 14% of the U.S. population in 2013 was foreign born, a smaller share than in Australia (28%) and Canada (21%), and significantly less than in some countries in the Persian Gulf, where the vast majorities of their populations are foreign-born workers.

In fact, the regional origins of U.S. immigrants have become more concentrated over time with a greater share born in Latin America and the Caribbean. About 47% of all migrants living in the U.S. in 1990 were from Latin American and Caribbean countries. By 2013, 55% of all foreign-born people living in the U.S. were born in the same region.


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  • Puggg

    It says here the trend in remittances is people from “middle income countries” like India coming to America and remitting money back to India.

    Which means this: Help poor Indians, patronize your local quik mart or motel.

    • Pro_Whitey

      One big reason why I minimize my patronage of minority-owned convenience stores. Only if absolutely necessary.

      • GOD

        I didn’t realize there were any convenience stores owned by anything but minorities. Then again, I’m in the NYC area. Never mind.

        • Sick of it

          I’ve seen nothing but minority owned convenience stores all over Texas and quite a few in Louisiana.

    • Xerxes22

      It’s hard to conceive of India as a middle income country.Their definition of middle income might be a bit different from ours, like having an extra pair of sandals or a full stomach.

    • Challenge Engineering

      People aren’t aware that the US government gives certain groups leeway in the forms of low rate loans to open different types of businesses. This is all based on lawsuits from the past. Indians get preference in loans to purchase a motel or hotel because in the past an Indian filed a discrimination lawsuit claiming he was denied the chance to purchase that type of business. Same goes for Koreans, Asians in general when it comes to convenience stores, liquor stores. Whites don’t have a chance getting started in these businesses unless they have the scratch to start from scratch.

      Here’s the kicker, most of the loans are never paid back. These cash based businesses never show a profit. After several years the non-white owner “sells” the business to a friend or relative, who has been brought to the US via daisy-chain immigration. The new arrival is actually the owner on paper only, maybe getting a cut, while the original owner still controls things. That’s why you will see the same guy at the register for 10 years, keeping an eye things, even though the business has supposedly been through three different owners. After three years, the cycle is repeated. That’s part of the way these people make money so quickly. Part of that is also spending their money amongst themselves, at businesses owned by their own. White taxpayers pick up the tab for the SBA loans. We can’t get loans from the SBA, but we end up paying for them. The government is aware of this cheating but does nothing. Unless they find out whites are doing it.

  • bigone4u

    A tale of parasites draining the blood of the host, slowly killing it. And yet the bull throwers in the government always tell us how much we benefit from immigration. The US needs more immigrants the way the Queen of England needs more money.

  • GeneticsareDestiny

    “By 2013, 55% of all foreign-born people living in the U.S. were born in the same region [Latin America and the Caribbean].”

    Wow, I’m sure this was the best possible choice we could have made when choosing who to let in. I can’t wait until we see that wonderful economy all the top economists say they’ll bring with them. /sarc

    • Sick of it

      After they really started flooding our country in the 90s, our economy has had its largest downturn since the Great Depression. Food for thought.

  • Spartacus


  • APaige

    If we really are all the same, why do so many people want to live in majority white nations? Could there be differences? Very important differences? Why then would whites want/allow non-whites who are different migrate to their nations?

    • 1stworlder

      living on welfare is better than being in the top 1% of natives of black nations. The last king of Rwanda lives in Virginia on welfare getting better free healthcare than you could buy in his homeland

  • BonusGift

    The irony here, obviously lost on the writer or ignored completely by intent, is that without those ‘remittances’ (and concomitant exporting of the human c-rap of those countries) a ‘middle income’ country like Mexico would no longer be middle income. Truly, the parasites only temporarily appear as non-parasites by being parasites in such numbers as to lie, cheat, steal, rape, drunk drive, kill, etc. their hosts up to the point that the host and parasites all collapse to becoming the parasitic hellholes from which they came. I seriously doubt by allowing whitey’s magic knowledge, technology, and stored wealth (that took generations to accumulate BTW) to be pissed away to some hellhole will result in anything other than our genocide and their temporary sugar rush.

  • scutum


    Immigration from thesethird world nations into the US and Europe is all being engineered by the UN. It is all part of their Agenda 21, along with mass transit, light rail, section
    8 housing, and a host of other Marxist ideas. The main funders of Agenda 21 are
    George Soros, the Rockefellers, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and numerous other
    elites, many of whom pretend to be conservative. It’s all about control, money,
    and power, not what’s good for the nation or its people. By the way, the land the UN building sits on was donated to them by the Rockefeller family.

  • M.

    Yes, the article only mentionned half the truth. While it’s true that a high number of the “Arabian” population is composed of foreign workers, these foreigners very rarely end up naturalized, and leave as soon as their working permit expires.
    Contrary to Western countries.