Our VoiceImmigration

Beautiful chart invites us to think of migration on a global scale

Lauren Taylor • Apr 11, 2014

Click on the image above to see the interactive charts.


Authors Guy Abel and Nikola Sander show data on 196 countries from 1990 through 2010

In the United States, many of us think of immigration flows only in relation to our southern border. If we stretch a bit, we might think of immigration historically, of immigrants in the past and today crossing oceans to move here. But we rarely think of it in a global context.

A dynamic chart, recently published by Science, visually depicts global migration flows over the last twenty years. The analysis used to create the chart also revealed some interesting facts about global migration. For example, if you adjust for population growth, the global migration rate has stayed about the same since 1995. Writing for Quartz, author Nick Stockton summarized several other findings regarding some of the largest migration flows in the last five years:

1) The largest regional migration is from Southeast Asia to the Middle East. This is largely because of the huge, oil-driven, construction booms happening on the Arabian Peninsula.

2) The biggest flow between individual countries is the steady stream from Mexico to the U.S. (In fact, the U.S. is the largest single migrant destination)

3) There’s a huge circulation of migrants among sub-Saharan African countries. This migration dwarfs the number leaving Africa, but the media pay more attention the latter because of the immigration debates in Europe.

The chart places our own conversation about immigration in an important global context. And demonstrates that all over the world, people move. While the research itself doesn’t address root causes of migration, we know people move for a wide variety of reasons – some freely choose to migrate, while many others are forced to migrate in search of safety and economic survival.

Take some time to explore this stunning graphic, and see how people move all over the world, and how these migration flows have changed over time.


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