Over 3% of the world’s population are expats, according to UN report

by Ray Clancy on July 17, 2014

A new report reveals where expats have moved to and how a record 232 million people are living outside the country where they were born.

According to the United Nations report, this means that 3.2% of the world’s total population have moved to live and work in another country. In 2000, the figure was only 175 million and was just 154 million in 1990.


3.2% of the world’s population now live in a different country than they were born in

Cheap flights, more open borders and the need to find work in the wake of the financial crash mean more people live outside the country they were born in than ever before.

Europe remains the most popular destination region with 72 million international migrants in 2013, compared to 71 million in Asia, the UN said. Despite there being almost 200 countries in the world, half of all immigration takes place into just 10 countries.

‘Migration, when governed fairly, can make a very important contribution to social and economic development both in the countries of origin and in the countries of destination,’ said Wu Hongbo, UN undersecretary general for economic and social affairs.

‘Migration broadens the opportunities available to individuals and is a crucial means of broadening access to resources and reducing poverty,’ he added.

British people are one of the biggest groups of expats and the report shows that more than five million people born in the UK have emigrated, with 25% of them ending up in Australia. Other top countries for British expats are the United States, Canada, Spain, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Germany and Italy.

There are also 7.8 million immigrants living in the UK, the fifth highest number of any country in the world.

The total number of Brits living abroad rose 23% from 4.1million in 1990 to five million 2013. Australia was the most popular destination, with 1.2 million expats, well ahead of the US with 758,919 and Canada with 674,371. Spain remains the most popular European country to live in for Brits, followed by Ireland, Germany and Italy.

The biggest increases in emigration from the UK were mostly to Eastern Europe, including countries which have since joined the European Union. It includes a huge leap in the numbers in Slovakia, up from 34 to 4,276 in 13 years. There were also large rises in the numbers in Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Hungary and Poland.

The US is home to the most immigrants anywhere in the world, with 45.8 million people, followed by Russia with 11 million, Germany 9.8million, Saudi Arabia 9.1 million and the United Arab Emirates 7.8 million.

Despite being the country ranked 80th in the world by size, the UK was home to the joint fifth highest number of immigrants with 7.8 million, just head of France at 7.4 million, Canada 7.3 million, Australia 6.5 million and Spain also 6.5 million.

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