Migration has been the focus of intense political debate in recent years. While most people have positive perceptions about immigrants, there are misconceptions and concerns. For instance, some think that migrants are a burden on economies.
But the pandemic has led to an abrupt stop to migration. While the Great Lockdown is temporary, the pandemic may add to a general sentiment of reticence and disbelief in openness and have long term effects on countries’ willingness to receive migrants. Less immigration and high unemployment in destination economies would hurt origin countries, especially poorer ones, that rely significantly on the remittances that migrant workers send back home.
Putting migration into perspective
In 2019, 270 million people in the world were migrants—defined as people not living in their country of birth. The migrant population has increased by 120 million since 1990. However, the share of migrants in the world’s population has hovered around 3 percent over the past 60 years.
Strikingly, the share of immigrants in the total population of advanced economies has risen from 7 percent to 12 percent, while the share of immigrants in emerging market and developing economies has remained at around 2 percent.
Migrants often settle within their home region. However, a significant part of international migration takes place over long distances (for example, from South Asia to the Middle East) and, in particular, from emerging markets and developing economies toward advanced economies.