The logo of the 'Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers' study by ILO. Credit: ILO
The logo of the 'Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers' study by ILO. Credit: ILO

A new report by the International Labour Organization reveals that 164 million people around the world are migrant workers, and that migration can help stimulate innovation and development.

A new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) maintains that if the right policies are enacted, migrant work can help countries to respond to changes in the supply and demand of labor, stimulate innovation and sustainable development, and transfer and update knowledge. 

The second edition of ILO's Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers, which covers the period from 2013 to 2017, estimates that 164 million people are migrant workers - a rise of 9 percent since 2013, when they numbered 150 million. 

96 mn migrant workers are men, 68 mn women 

The report said the majority of migrant workers - 96 million - are men, while 68 million are women. This represents an increase in the share of men among migrant workers, (56 to 58 percent), and a 2 percent decrease in women's share (from 44 to 42 percent). 

"While growing numbers of women have been migrating autonomously in search of employment in the past two decades, the discrimination they often face because of their gender and nationality reduces their employment opportunities in destination countries compared to their male peers," said Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO Conditions of Work and Equality Department. 

Nearly 87 percent of migrant workers are of prime working age, between 25 and 64 years old, the ILO said. This suggests that some countries of origin are losing the most productive segment of their workforce. 

Data on regional trends 

The report provides a comprehensive picture of the subregions and income groups in which migrants are working. Of the 164 million migrant workers worldwide, approximately 111.2 million (67.9 percent) live in high-income countries, 30.5 million (18.6 percent) in upper middle-income countries, 16.6 million (10.1 percent) in lower middle-income countries and 5.6 million (3.4 percent) in low-income countries. 

Migrant workers constitute 18.5 percent of the workforce of high-income countries, but only 1.4 - 2.2 percent in lower-income countries.

From 2013 to 2017, the concentration of migrant workers in high-income countries fell from 74.7 to 67.9 percent, while their share in upper middle-income countries increased. This could be attributed to the economic development of the latter. Nearly 61 percent of migrant workers are found in three subregions: 23 percent in North America; 23.9 percent in Northern, Southern and Western Europe; and 13.9 percent in the Arab countries.

Other regions that host large numbers of migrant workers - above 5 percent - include Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, South-Eastern Asia and the Pacific, and Central and Western Asia. In contrast, Northern Africa hosts less than 1 percent of migrant workers. (In the picture ).

More articles