No. 882 - 22 June 2005
GENEVA - Many concerns that surround migration, such as loss of jobs, lower wages, increased welfare costs and the belief that migration is spiralling out of control, are not only exaggerated or unfounded but contrary to evidence, according to the World Migration Report 2005, released today by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). According to the report, the first ever comprehensive study looking at the costs and benefits of international migration, there is ample evidence that migration brings both costs and benefits for sending and receiving countries, even if these are not always shared equally.
We are living in an increasingly globalized world which can no longer depend on domestic labour markets alone. This is a reality that has to be managed,?says IOM Director General, Brunson McKinley. f managed properly, migration can bring more benefits than costs. The 2005 World Migration Report illustrates this clearly.?br>Migrants represent only 2.9% of the global population.
The UN Population Division estimates the migrant population in 2005 at between 185-192 million people ?up from 175 million in 2000. Nearly half of them are female. However, the socio-economic and political visibility of migrants, especially in highly industrialised countries, is much greater than this percentage would suggest. Migration flows have also shifted in recent years and in some cases, international migration is actually decreasing.
Although Asia, which has traditionally represented the largest international migrant stock, has seen an increase in the number of migrants from 28.1 million in 1970 to 43.8 million in 2000, in real terms, this represents a drop from 34.5% to 25% of the migrant stock in the same time frame. In addition, more and more Asians are finding job opportunities within Asia itself.
In Africa, international migration, usually within the continent rather than outside of it, has dropped over the past 30 years from 12% to 9% of the global stock and this is a pattern repeated in several other regions. Only two areas in the world have seen an increase in their migrant stock ?Northern America and the former USSR.
The perception that migrants are more of a burden on host countries than a benefit is not sustained by research, according to the World Migration Report. In the UK, for example, a recent Home Office study calculated that in 1999-2000, migrants contributed US$ 4 billion more in taxes than they received in benefits.
In the US, the National Research Council estimated that national income had expanded by US$ 8 billion in 1997 because of immigration.