Where everyone in the world is migrating—in one gorgeous chart
Explore new estimates of migration flows between and within regions for five-year periods, 1990 to 2010. Click on a region to discover flows country-by-country.
About the Data: The bilateral flows between 196 countries are estimated from sequential stock tables. They are comparable across countries and capture the number of people who changed their country of residence over five-year periods. The estimates reflect migration transitions and thus cannot be compared to annual movements flow data published by United Nations and Eurostat.
About the Plot: The circular plot shows the estimates of directional flows between 123 countries that recorded a migration volume (immigration + emigration) of more than 100,000 people in at least two of the four time periods. Only flows containing at least 50,000 migrants are shown. The window that pops up when hovering over the plot indicates the absolute number of immigrants (total in) and emigrants (total out) over the five-year period.
Click on the chart below to enlarge it:
These flows represent 75% of human migration from 2005-2010. (NB only flows over 50,000 are displayed.) Circos/ Krzywinski, M. et al.
How to Read the Plot: Origins and destinations are represented by the circle’s segments. Each region/country is assigned a colour. Flows have the same colour as their origin and the width indicates their size. The direction of the flow is also shown by the gap between flow and country/region: small gap indicates origin; large gap indicates destination.
It’s no secret that the world’s population is on the move, but it’s rare to get a glimpse of where that flow is happening. In a study released in today’s Science, a team of geographers used data snapshots to create a broad analysis of global migrations over 20 years.
It’s not the poorest who migrate the most
While the results of the migration study aren’t particularly groundbreaking, there are two interesting insights:
1) Adjusted for population growth, the global migration rate has stayed roughly the same since around since 1995 (it was higher from 1990-1995).
2) It’s not the poorest countries sending people to the richest countries, it’s countries in transition—still poor, but with some education and mobility—that are the highest migratory contributors.
A few other noteworthy results:
Explore the world of migration
The data aren’t perfect. Riosmena points out that in countries that especially dislike migrants, like the US and Europe, numbers are often underreported. Still, he says, the data are a very good indication of the general trends.
Also, amateur data sleuths be warned: Because these flow estimates are taken from 10-year static counts, they cannot be compared to the annual migrational flows that the UN publishes (which, as mentioned above, cannot be used to compare between countries).
Sander says she hopes her data will change the way other researchers approach migration. “Inside the discipline, we hope that it’s going to be the basis for subsequent analysis of the impact of migration on population, on economies, on aging.” Sander and her colleagues have lined their data up with global remittance flows, and are analyzing what kind of patterns they can find therein.
Explore new estimates of migration flows between and within regions for five-year periods, 1990 to 2010.
(Click on a region to discover flows country-by-country.)