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India tops the list of migrants worldwide: UN

Source: SBS

According to the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Indians make up the largest diaspora in the world.

In 2019, 17.5 million people of Indian origin are living out of the country, according to a study by the United Nations. This makes Indians the largest number of migrants group in the world where 272 million people are living out of their country of origin.

The International Migrant Stock 2019, a dataset released recently by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), estimates the number of international migrants based on official national statistics on the foreign-born or the foreign population obtained from population censuses, population registers or nationally representative surveys.

The report estimates India tops the countries of origin of migrants with 17.5 million, followed by Mexico (11.8 million), China (10.7 million), Russia (10.5 million), Syria (8.2 million), Bangladesh (7.8 million), Pakistan (6.3 million), Ukraine (5.9 million), the Philippines (5.4 million) and Afghanistan (5.1 million).

Economist Dr Vinod Mishra of Monash University says outward migration from India is mostly due to economic reasons and labour wages play a significant role.

"From the purely economic point of view, the simple trade theory states that an abundance of labour is inversely proportional to the returns or wages. And, India being a young country, has an abundance of labour, so people are more likely to move to areas where the returns are higher."

indian migrants
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Dr Mishra points to the fact that the outward immigration from India is divided into two categories.

"There is an interesting divide between the Indian migrants. One category is of unskilled and semi-skilled migrants who move to the gulf countries. The geographic location of India pushes this migration to a great extent. And the other category is of highly skilled migrants which target OECD countries like the US, Germany, UK and Australia.

"The Indian education system plays a significant role in the migration to developed countries. English is taught in India from the school level, so life becomes easier for the Indians living abroad. India has invested heavily in higher education with institutes like IITs and IIMs that produce highly skilled people that are highly in demand in the developed world."

According to the UN report, the US leads the list of countries that host the most migrants with 51 million people. Germany is the second-largest host with 13 million migrants followed by Saudi Arabia (13 million), Russia (12 million), the UK (10 million), the UAE (9 million), France, Canada and Australia (around 8 million each) and Italy (6 million).

India hosts 5.1 million migrants most of which come from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

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