New Research: Measuring Global Migration Potential

I ran across a recent report from the International Organization for Migration (an arm of the UN Migration Agency) that is worth sharing here on the website. The research brief takes up the task of predicting future global migration patterns. Of course, this kind of work is speculative and the brief admits as much. It is notoriously hard to predict how things will happen simply by analyzing how things have happened.

Nevertheless, the research highlights a couple of really significant points that are worth note for those of us concerned about the mission of the church in North America (and beyond for that matter).

Desire to emigrate is still growing.

According to the study (conducted by Gallup in 160 countries) over 700 million people want to migrate. That number is staggering. It continues by pointing out that the vast majority of people who want to  migrate are not in a position to do so. They point out that only 66 million say they are making plans to migrate and only 23 million claim to have started the process. However, those last two numbers may be more significant than the first.

To be clear, a desire to immigrate does not translate directly into actual immigration. Not everyone who wants to move can. Nevertheless, it stands to reason that more people wanting to will mean more people who actually do. In other words, immigration is not going away any time soon. In fact, it only appears to be on the rise globally.

The United States is still top of the list as a destination.

Even with the cooling of political opinions toward refugees, the research demonstrates that the United States is still, far and away, the destination of choice for those wanting to migrate. Of course, a number of other Western countries top the list with the U.S., and foreign-born populations will continue to rise in the developing world across North America and Europe.

We must not forget that refugees, even though they are the current political football concerning immigration, are a slim portion of the people moving to the United States. We have many more who move here as students are in other capacities. Some reports are showing that this number may be at a plateau for a while, but even if the rate of entry is not growing, millions are still coming per year.

Africans and Asians are on the move.

Finally, the brief does a good job showcasing the types of people who are moving the most right now. Currently, migration is at a swell in Africa and Asia, specifically West Africa and South Asia. In the coming years, we can expect to see a growing presence of Nigerians and Indians, along with others from these regions as they become more mobile.

I suggest at least taking a look at the graphs and perhaps drilling in on anything that seems of interest. You can find a downloadable copy of the report here:

Measuring Global Migration Potential, 2010-2015

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