The U.N. Population Division reported that 232 million people, or 3.2 per cent of the world's population, were living outside their homeland in 2013 — a significant increase from the 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990.
"Migration broadens the opportunities available to individuals and is a crucial means of broadening access to resources and reducing poverty," Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo said.
Nearly two-thirds of all international migrants live in Europe and Asia, with Europe hosting 72 million and Asia 71 million in 2013, the U.N. report said.
The new estimates found that developed countries in the north are home to 136 million international migrants, compared to 96 million in the developing south.
Between 1990 and 2013, the north gained a larger number of international migrants than the south. But since 2000, the growth in the south has been more rapid than in the north.
Nonetheless, international migration remains highly concentrated, with half of all international migrants living in 10 countries this year.
The United States hosts the largest number, 45.8 million, and it gained the largest number of international migrants between 1990 and 2013 — nearly 23 million which is equal to one million additional migrants per year, the report said.
Russia was second with 11 million international migrants, followed by Germany with 9.8 million, Saudi Arabia with 9.1 million, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom with 7.8 million, France with 7.4 million, Canada with 7.3 million, and Australia and Spain with 6.5 million, it said.
John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division, said "new sources and destinations of migrants are emerging, and in some cases, countries have become important points of origin, transit and destination simultaneously."
Asia saw the largest increase of international migrants between 2000 and 2013, adding some 20 million migrants, mainly as a result of increasing demand for foreign labour in the oil-producing countries of western Asia and in Southeast Asian countries with rapidly growing economies such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, Wilmoth said.
According to the new data, released ahead of a high-level U.N. event on International Migration and Development on Oct. 3-4, nearly 75 per cent of international migrants are of working age, between 20 and 64, and 48 per cent are women.Suggest a correction