Brief Notes on Migration Statistics of World Population

The number of Mexicans who died trying to cross illegally into the United States from 1993 to 1996 is 1,185 according to Worldwatch Institute. The approximate number of people who died trying to cross the Berlin Wall from 1961 to 1989 is 100, according to the Institute.


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Foreign workers form the majority of the labour force in several Middle Eastern countries, and about one-seventh of the labour force in South America.

African and western Asia contains more than half of the world total of 15 million refugees and displaced persons.


Newly arriving immigrants account for all the population growth in Germany and about a third of the annual growth in the United States.

The United States had a migrant stock of almost 22 million in 1999, about 8 per cent of the national population of 273 million.

In the 1990s Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand had net population gain from migration. Africa, Asia, and Latin America experienced a net loss.

Refugees from three countries or geographic areas accounted for nearly half the world’s refugees in 1994: Palestinians 3.1 million, Afghanis 2.5 million, and Rwandans 1.7 million.


Although their population is only about 5 per cent of the world population, the United States and Canada contain about 20 per cent of the world’s migrant stock.

More than 50 million Europeans immigrated, primarily to North America, South America, and Australia, between and mid-l800s and the outbreak of World War I.

The trend was reversed in the 1960s, when million of immigrants flowed into the countries of Northern and Western Europe as guest workers, asylum seekers from former communist countries, and unauthorised aliens or refugees from the violence in former Yugoslavia.

In much of Europe, a foreigner is defined not by birthplace, but by ethnicity or ancestry.


The high-income industrial democracies contain about 60 million immigrants, refugees and asylees, and authorised and unauthorised migrant workers.

The percentage of countries whose policies in 1976 were aimed at reducing immigration was 6, increasing to 33 in 1995, according to Worldwatch Institute.

Since 1960 the percentage of people living in urban areas has gone up about 30 per cent.

In developing countries, urban populations have more than doubled since 1950 to 39 per cent.

Currently, Oceania has the highest percentage of migrants in its population (17.8 per cent). Yet those 4.7 million migrants are only one-tenth the numbers of migrants in Asia (43 million).

The industrialised countrie’s native labour pool is expected to shrink as the developing world’s workforce doubles.

While it is impossible to list all migrations, the chief sources of migrants and the general direction of flows has been as follows:

1. Europe, with destinations in the New World and the colonial empires of the great expansionist powers;

2. The west coast of Africa, with movement of slaves to the New World;

3. China, with particular emphasis on those moving to Southeast Asia and to Manchuria; and

4. The colonisation of the interior of Asia by Russians and other Europeans.

i. Inter-regional migration of prehistoric times was not considered as true migration because at that time concept of political boundary did not exist. So only the migration since colonial period may be considered as true migration.

ii. The age of mass migration began in the 17th century. The European overseas expansion of 17lh century and later perhaps constitutes the world’s most tremendous displacement of people.

Governments with colonies in the New World viewed migration as a means by which they could establish permanent political control over the new overseas domains and thereby legitimize their territorial claims.

iii. The exploitation of natural resources, particularly precious metals and also wood and fibers, were also viewed as a positive benefit to be obtained from colonies; migrants were to supply the necessary labour force for resource exploitation in the North American colonies where native populations were small.

The migrants themselves often made the journey to seek land, already a scarce commodity in much of Europe.

Parts of Europe were indeed overcrowded at the time, although overpopulation was not yet officially recognized.

Since the last forests of the North European Plain had been cleared for settlement almost two hundred years before Columbus made his voyages, and large areas of formerly productive farmland in Spain and Portugal had degenerated into malarial swamp or badly eroded scrubland.

iv. Spain and Portugal sent relatively small number of people to supervise and develop colonial lands.

Generally, Spanish policy was to keep political dissidents at home and to eject religious minorities who would not convert to other European countries, particularly the Turkish Empire. Spain and Portugal sent mainly loyal conformists to their New World colonies.

v. Mass movement most generally involved plantation development in the tropics; African slaves were ^oyed in as a labour force in areas of ioW population density.

vi. The English and French, howeVC” did eonduct active settlement campaigns on a significant scale. Political/religious dissidents or surplus, landless peasantry colonized temperate regions.

Quebec and the Canadian maritime provifiCCs (New France and Acadia) were peopled by groups who were largely of French origin; the original thirteen colonies of the United States were peopled predominantly by British Subjects (and blacks south of New Jersey and Pennsylvania).

Nonetheless, German, Dutch, and Scandinavian elements were numerous in the Middle Atlantic States where they were to form a migrational bond and a tradition for future migrations. The greatest numbers reached the United States between 1840 and 1925.

Political upheaval and the industrialisation of Europe, with associated dispossession of many subsistence farmers, led to periodic jvaves of movement to America.

The first great movement (1840 to 1870) involved primarily Irish, German, and Scandinavian elements, although migration from England continued.

The Irish potato famine was only one of a series of famines that struck virtually all of Europe in the 1840s, caused by both natural phenomena and farmer revolts.

Many left Europe as political refugees when the agrarian uprisings of landless peasantry were brutally smashed. Others, often intellectuals and patriots, fled assimilation programs enforced by governments of multinational empires.

During this period (1840-1870) one half of all Irish, one sixth of all Germans, and one fifth of all Scandinavians left home a total of some 5 million.

vii. The first half of 20th century may be said as a period of great political turmoil in which the two world wars were fought.

viii. The First World War gave rebirth to forced migrations but these forced migrations were not for economic gains. The most significant characteristics of forced migration is that the normal selectivity in the migration process by age, sex, skill, education is lacking and communities, as a whole, are uprooted.

ix. Over 20 million Russians migrated within and outside Russia as a result of Great Revolution of 1917.

The second wave came after the Civil War. From 1870 to 1890, northwestern Europeans continued to flock to the United States in great numbers. Some came to already established ethnic colonies; others went to the new farmlands of the Great Plains or the cities of the Great Lakes.

Germans, Scandinavians, Irish, and British nationals predominated, but Slaves and Italians had already begun to enf&r the stream of migrants in significant numbers.

By 1926, migration to the United States was restricted by quotas; economic depression and World War II further reduced immigration.

x. In recent years, migration to the United States is related to occupational quota rather than national origin. Periodic extra-quota exceptions are made to receive political refugees such as the Hungarians, Cubans, and Vietnamese.

xi. Flight from starvation has recently been a prime motivation behind the flight of many Cambodian refugees from their homeland to Thailand, although this movement is a flight from the ravages of invasion as well.

xii. Enormous numbers of both Muslims and Hindus were forced to flee their homes following the partition of India in 1947.

xiii. There are often political and economic motivations behind the act of expulsion, and the number of people expelled from their country of residence has increased greatly in recent years. Settlers of European origin, even if born therein, were systematically expelled from Algeria, Libya, and parts of East Africa after these former colonies attained independence.

xiv. Vietnam simply expelled many people of Chinese origin during the 1970s. Many of the so-called “boat people” were not refugees but expellees-simply loaded onto boats by force and cast adrift.

The most recent migration have been of Cubans to the United States included criminal offenders, the mentally ill, and other groups who were literally expelled along with those who wished to migrate.

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