The Global Movement of People

11 Oct

According to statistics from the New York Times, nearly 190 million people, or about three percent of the world’s population, lived outside their country of birth in 2005, and the map below paints a fascinating picture of just who is moving where.

The green circles represent places where more people are coming in, and the orange circles show countries where more people are leaving.

Global migration is big, and getting bigger all the time.  Human beings are fast becoming one of the hottest commodities around, and like all complex social phenomenons, international migration can simultaneously benefit and harm millions.  Although human trafficking and worker exploitation are all too common, hard-working migrants around the world still manage to support their families and can even bring entire countries out of poverty.   According to the World Bank, in some countries, such as Tajikistan and Lesotho, remittances make up more than 25% of the country’s GDP.  Can you imagine?  The auto industry in the US, long considered one of our strongest, only accounts for 3-4% of our GDP, and no other single industry in the US accounts for more then 15-20%.

I was expecting the global migration map to show some clear pattern, much in the same way that world poverty maps show a clear connection to geographic location and the percentage of the population living below the poverty line.   Yet the global movement of people seems to be linked to such a plethora of variables that it is impossible to predict who will move where in the world at any given point in time.   Sure, America will have an abundance of migrants, particularly from the numerous poor countries directly South of its borders, but who would have guessed that Afghanistan would receive 222,000 more migrants then it saw leave?  Where are all the migrants coming from?  And why do they choose to flee to Afghanistan?  I just assumed refugees were fleeing Afghanistan, and not the other way around.  And what about Argentina, which lost an average of 20,000 people per year?  I thought Argentina was relatively well-off compared to most of its neighboring countries, and I assumed poor migrants from Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay would flock to Argentina in such large numbers that it would end up with a positive balance.

As a constant nomad myself, I can’t help but identify with people who leave their homeland in search of something different, and I am fascinated by and passionate about international migration.  Gente Mal has evolved over the years and changed based on wherever I found myself living at the time, but I’m hoping to refocus the blog to discuss the global movement of people, so look for exciting new things on the horizon at



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