Currently, 232 million people live outside of their country of birth, more than ever, according to the UN.
As a percentage of the world’s population, however, the number of immigrants is 3.2% – a number that has stayed steady since 1990, Pew Research reports.
Almost 20%, or 46 million, of the world’s immigrants live in the U.S., by far the most popular destination country.
Here are the top ten origin countries for U.S. immigrants, according to 2011 census data (the latest available):
A much smaller amount, about 3 million, move from the U.S., according to Pew.
Where are people moving from?
The principal reason for migrating is the pursuit of economic opportunity – 69% of international immigrants now live in high-income countries, according to Pew.
However, perhaps reflecting the globalized economy, migrating between countries in the southern hemisphere is now as common as migration from the southern to the northern hemisphere, according to the UN.
In 2013, 82.3 million international migrants were born in the south were residing in the south, slightly higher than the 81.9 million southern-born migrants living in northern countries.
Where are people moving to?
Europe and Asia are the most popular regions for immigrants, receiving nearly two-thirds of all migrants combined; 72 and 71 million respectively, according to the UN.
The top ten destinations are:
What will the future hold?
Pew Research projects that the U.S. will receive another 67 million immigrants by 2050, most of whom will be from Latin American or Asia. The percentage of the population that are immigrants in this scenario will be 19%, topping the historical high of 14% in 1910.
According to an OECD study, global migration is very likely to stay at the same level, or increase, in the next 20-30 years, as aging populations in Europe and the U.S. increase demand for labor.
An increasing amount of people may also leave their countries to avoid conflict or repression. Currently, an 18-year high of 15 million people are displaced from their homes, according to the UN refugee agency with 2.5 million from Syria alone.
The effects of climate change, such as drought, could also lead to more migration to developed nations, as well as oil-rich economies in the Middle East and North Africa, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
All these factors mean that immigration will likely increase, and the organization encourages nations to have more flexible attitudes toward immigration, instead of viewing it “as some kind of plague.”