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Health Nutrition and Population Statistics was updated on September 21, 2023
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International migrant stock (% of population)
International migrant stock is the number of people born in a country other than that in which they live, including refugees.
International migrant stock is the number of people born in a country other than that in which they live. It also includes refugees. The data used to estimate the international migrant stock at a particular time are obtained mainly from population censuses. The estimates are derived from the data on foreign-born population--people who have residence in one country but were born in another country. When data on the foreign-born population are not available, data on foreign population--that is, people who are citizens of a country other than the country in which they reside--are used as estimates. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 people living in one of the newly independent countries who were born in another were classified as international migrants. Estimates of migrant stock in the newly independent states from 1990 on are based on the 1989 census of the Soviet Union. For countries with information on the international migrant stock for at least two points in time, interpolation or extrapolation was used to estimate the international migrant stock on July 1 of the reference years. For countries with only one observation, estimates for the reference years were derived using rates of change in the migrant stock in the years preceding or following the single observation available. A model was used to estimate migrants for countries that had no data.
United Nations Population Division, Trends in Total Migrant Stock: 2008 Revision.
Social Protection & Labor: Migration
Limitations and exceptions
In deriving the estimates, an international migrant was equated to a person living in a country other than that in which he or she was born. That is, the number of international migrants, also called the international migrant stock, would represent the number of foreign-born persons enumerated in the countries or areas constituting the world. However, because several countries lack data on the foreign-born, data on the number of foreigners, if available, were used instead as the basis of estimation. Consequently, the overall number of migrants in world regions or at the global level do not quite represent the overall number of foreign-born persons. The disintegration and reunification of countries causes discontinuities in the change of the international migrant stock. Because an international migrant is equated with a person who was born outside the country in which he or she resides, when a country disintegrates, persons who had been internal migrants because they had moved from one part of the country to another may become, overnight, international migrants without having moved at that time. Such changes introduce artificial but unavoidable discontinuities in the trend of the international migrant stock. The reunification of States also introduces discontinuities, but in the opposite direction.
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