This figure is 9% higher than in 2013, when it stood at 150 million, according to the report titled ‘Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers’

18 December was International Migrants Day. But, what is a migrant? The International Organisation for Migration defines a migrant as «any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a State away from his/her habitual place of residence»; on the other hand, it stresses that a migrant worker «because of his or her skills, is usually granted preferential treatment regarding admission to a host country» and that they engage in paid work.

In the second edition of the report ‘Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers,’ the ILO revealed that there is a total of 164 million migrant workers in the world. These data show that 96 million are men, while 68 million are women. This figure is 9% higher than in 2013 when it stood at 150 million.

Developing countries are losing their working classes

87% of migrant workers belong to the most productive age group, between 25 and 64 years of age. This suggests that some countries of origin are losing the most productive member of their workforce which, according to the report, could have a negative impact on economic growth.

The study also provides a comprehensive overview of their income groups regarding the sub-regions where they work. Most, 111.12 million live in high-income countries; 30.5 million in middle-high-income countries; 16.6 million medium-low income countries; and 5.6 in low-income countries.

Close to 61% per cent of migrant workers are found in three subregions: 23% has moved to North America, 23.9% to Southern, Northern and Western Europe, and 13.9% to Arab countries. Other regions that also receive a large number of migrants -more than 5% -include Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia, Central Asia and Western Asia. On the other hand, North Africa attracts less than 1%.

‘Brain Drain’

Sometimes, migrants integrate successfully and others they do not. The head of the ILO Skills and Employability Branch, Srinivas b. Reddy, says that «access to labour markets is beneficial for everyone, because it prevents deskilling, reduces vulnerabilities, capitalizes talent and supports the development of local economies and enterprises». He also noted that the benefits should be maximised for the countries of origin and destination, and for the migrants, to ensure «the gaining of skills and not a brain drain», when people are employed below their skill level.


Global Compact on Migration

With 152 countries for, 5 against, and 12 abstentions, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that reaffirms the commitment of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, more than one week ago in Marrakech, Morocco.

This is the first global agreement to help reap the benefits of migration and protect undocumented migrants. The document consists of 23 goals, including measures against trafficking in persons and family separation. It has been estimated that at least 258 million people are migrants, one out of every 30 people who do not live in their country of origin.