Only 37 per cent of migrants in the world move from developing to developed countries, while a majority of 60 per cent international migrants move to countries in the same category of development.
Moreover, an overwhelming majority of migrants move within the borders of their own country. The Human Development Report for 2009, released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), states that 214 million, or 3.1 per cent of the world’s population, are international migrants, while there are 740 million (around 11 per cent of the world population) internal migrants in the world.
In India, international migration is dwarfed by internal migration. The immigration and emigration rates for India stood at 0.5 per cent and 0.8 per cent of its total population, respectively, while internal migration rates are estimated to be 4.1 per cent. Speaking at the release of the report, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the 4.1 per cent internal migration estimate was less despite India’s democratic internal framework, which allowed freedom of movement. In contrast, China’s rate of internal migration was around 5.5 per cent.
The majority (72 per cent) of Indian migrants moved to Asia followed by 15 per cent of the emigrants who shifted to North America. The remittance inflow to India at $35,262 million is 5.1 per cent higher than foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.
However, standards of living continue to be important to migrants and they prefer to move to a nation with higher living standards (even if it is a developing country) than the country of their origin.
The reasons for low level of movement from developing to developed countries are the high costs of migration, demand for high skilled people in destination countries and policy hurdles. One in every 10 countries has passport costs that exceed 10 per cent of a citizen’s per capita income. Moreover, many migrants feel that costs associated with moving are very high. For example, Asian migrants moving to the Gulf often pay 25-35 per cent of what they expect to earn over 2-3 years in recruitment and other fees.
The report also said that migrants from poorest countries saw an average 15-fold increase in their income, a doubling in education enrolment rates and a 16-fold reduction in child mortality after moving to a country with more opportunities.
The report calls for policies that provide access and better treatment to low-skilled migrants and bases its analysis on 2007 country-specific census data.