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11 Countries with Highest Foreign Born Population

These 11 countries with highest foreign born population hosted more than a half of all international migrants. In 2013, 3.2 percent of the world population, or more than 231 million people lived outside their country of birth. Compared to 1990, the number of foreign nationals almost doubled.

Since UN adopted Declaration of Human Rights 67 years ago, freedom of movement has become one of the fundamental human rights. In Article 13 Declaration states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state” and “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” However, the number of people who lost their lives while trying to exercise the right to free movement contradicts the Declaration. Since 2000, almost half a million people has died in an attempt to cross borders and among them, the majority were refugees fleeing from war zones. Latest available United Nation’s data shows that there were 16 million refugees in 2013 which accounted for 7 percent of total international migrants. However, given latest Syrian war, the number of displaced people is centrally much higher today, and it will probably continue to rise.

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 Unlike refugees who are forced to leave their countries, the majority of international migrants are people who voluntary move to another place in search for employment and educational opportunities. When taken as a whole, migration is a complex phenomenon that equally affects migrant’s country of birth and country of residence. On one side, countries that host migrants have multiple gains – from cultural diversity to labor force. For instance, these 11 countries with highest aging population, in which the number of working age people has rapidly declined, have benefited from foreign workers. On the other side, countries that lose their human resources are at risk of rapid depopulation, which in turn affects economic growth and nation’s survival on the demographic map of the world. As expected developed regions host greater number of migrants. In 2013, Asia and Europe received two-thirds of all international migrants who mainly chose countries with high living standards as their final destination.

To create the list 11 countries with highest foreign born population we used as a source United Nation’s International Migrant Stock, which defines migrant as “an individual who has resided in a foreign country for more than one year irrespective of the causes, voluntary or involuntary, and the means, regular or irregular”. In the text we use the words migrant, foreign born person, foreigner interchangeably. However, it should be noted that there are differences in the way in which countries define these terms which in turn affects the final count of the foreign born population. More details about differences between countries can be found here. Besides UN report, we also consulted OECD data on migrations which compare migrants’ educational level and living standard across OECD countries.