International migrant stock refers to the total number of international migrants in a country or region at a given point in time. In other words, it is the number of people residing in countries other than the country of birth.
On December 18th, 1990, the United Nations (UN) adopted a resolution on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Recognizing the increasing number of migrants over time, the UN further proclaimed December 18th as the International Migrants Day at the 81st plenary meeting of the General Assembly on December 4th, 2000. The proclamation aims to promote the human rights of migrants and migrant protection through experience sharing and policy development.
In fact, the history of migration dates back to ancient times when most people migrated from developing to industrialized countries for employment, education, or family-related reasons. Some migrated across borders to escape from civil wars (e.g., the situation in Syria and Yemen), economic unrest (e.g., in Venezuela), or extreme violence and conflict (e.g., the Rohingya crisis). In the future, there will be more frequent international migration driven by environmental factors and climate change.
By 2020, the global international migrant stock has reached 280 million people, with its percentage as of the total world population growing from 2.9% in 1990 to 3.6% in today’s time. Although this means that the vast majority of people still live in their countries of birth, it also shows that the scale of migration is expanding along with population growth. According to the graph on the top right, the migrant stock grew at the fastest rate of 15.4% in 2010 and increased rapidly as well at 12.2% and 13.2% in 2015 and 2020, respectively. Meanwhile, the picture above presents the distribution of global international migrant stock by 2020. Europe observed the highest number of migrants at 86.71 million people, followed by 85.62 million migrants in Asia and 58.71 million migrants in North America. Each accounted for 30.9%, 30.5%, and 20.9% of the global migration stock, respectively.
The next question is: which country has the largest proportion of immigrants? Is it a European country? Which country, then, is contributing to the increase in the immigrant population? Stay tuned!