Global Resources

A new profile of mgrants in the aftermath of the recent economic crisis

Author: C. Arslan, J-C. Dumont, Z. Kone
Publisher: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
Publication Date: Jan 2014

International migration of diverse migrant populations is on the rise, making high-quality, comparable, and regularly updated data on migrants essential. This paper presents the results of the 2010/11 update of the Database on Immigrants in OECD Countries; and describes immigrant and emigrant populations by socio-demographic characteristics and labour market outcomes. It also contains updated emigration rates and brain drain figures, and analyses the impacts of the global financial crisis.

The report opens with the main findings and key figures, as well as a look at the database itself. Following this are four sections providing analysis of the database update, which begins with an overview of migration to the OECD, including the significant variation found between countries, and the fact the Europe remains the main region of origin. The trend of increasing migration is then examined in finer detail; this is followed by a discussion of economic crisis impacts, including the significant reduction in migrants traveling from Latin America. Finally, emigration rates and brain drain rates are analysed.

The report concludes by noting a number of key statistics and trends:

  • As of 2010/11, the total number of migrants in OECD countries had risen 38% compared to the previous decade.
  • The largest increase in migration is from Africa and Asia, while Mexico, Romania, China, India; and Poland accounted for around a quarter of all migration to the OECD.
  • Levels of migrants with tertiary education rose 70% to 2010/11, with one-third coming from Asia; the rise was greater for women migrants (79%).
  • Positive employment trends were interrupted by the 2008 economic crisis, which has seen unemployment amongst migrants increase. In some countries, this has entirely eradicated gains made in the first half of the decade.
  • Small and island states have the highest emigration rates, while Latin America had the highest total emigration rate in 2010/11. In the 2000’s, emigration rates increased for all regions, with the majority of countries disproportionately losing more highly educated people.
  • Such brain-drain is higher in low-income and lower-middle income countries than others, though this is not the case for total emigration rates.
  • Rising educational attainment is partially offsetting the negative impacts of high-skilled emigration in origin countries.
  • The increasing scale of migration requires more data to be collected from non-OECD countries also, especially in light of increasing South-South migration.