YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


July 12, 1994

Across the globe, millions of people are on the move. Today, about 100 million live outside their countries of birth.

Their motives are many, but the most popular one is economic opportunity. Refugees fleeing war or persecution doubled in number in the turbulent 1980s, but they still represent only a minority of all migrants.

These are some of the discoveries in a new report, "Global Migration: People on the Move," by Population Action International in Washington, D.C. The report tells who is going where--and why.

There's plenty to keep track of. The number of long-term migrants from developing to developed countries has mushroomed four-fold since the the early 1960s, the study says. The engine of this trend is inequality: Rich nations got richer over the decades while poor nations fared poorly or stagnated.

Political conflict, labor surpluses, exhaused farm land and government policies aimed at family unification also cause migration.

To put it all in perspective, though, migrants represent only 2% of the world's population. Most people never leave their home country.


* Between wealthy nations

Migration of workers between industrialized countries is growing, especially in Western Europe, where the emergence of the European Union has blurred traditional political and economic boundaries.

* To wealthier nations

The number of long-term migrants from developing to developed countries increased from about 230,000 a year in the early 1960s to roughly 940,000 by the late 1980s. Today North America, especially the United States, is the greatest magnet. In Europe, North Africans and Turks moved to France and Germany in large numbers in the 1960s and 1970s. Since 1985, migration to Europe has diversified to include Asians and new destinations, such as Italy and Spain, which formerly were sources of migrants.

* Between developing countries

In Latin America and Africa, most flows have been between neighboring countries. In sub-Saharan Africa at least 10 million people are believed to be migrants or refugees.

In Latin America, wealthier countries such as Argentina and Venezuela absorb people from nearby nations.


Often, migrants go right next door--as with Mexicans entering the United States. But political and historical ties, such as those between Britain and Commonwealth countries, can send people around the world. Culture and language also matter; many French-speakers move to France, for instance.

Illegal migration in the United States is estimated at about 200,000 to 300,000 a year, compared to legal immigrants, who in 1992 numbered 974,000.

Legal, long-term migration to developed regions (annual average): 1) To North America

From 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 Sub-Saharan Africa 3,003 12,956 19,224 North Africa and West Asia 12,340 22,679 29,233 South Asia 6,981 32,618 64,081 East and Southeast Asia 30,769 132,621 242,657 Latin America and the Caribbean 129,714 288,139 388,037 Developed Countries* 273,563 180,782 129,472 Total 456,370 669,795 872,704

2) To Western Europe

From 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 Sub-Saharan Africa 4,593 7,382 12,107 North Africa and West Asia 88,470 139,017 39,801 South Asia 13,497 19,808 26,736 East and Southeast Asia 6,928 15,421 37,143 Latin America and the Carribean 4,624 11,411 10,047 Developed countries* 296,023 126,956 156,785 Total 414,135 319,995 282,619

3) To Oceania

From 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 Sub-Saharan Africa 2,122 3,127 4,847 North Africa and West Asia 3,398 8,084 4,247 South Asia 1,882 3,233 3,857 East and Southeast Asia 2,213 8,248 30,071 Latin America and the Caribbean 404 4,063 2,756 Developed countries* 118,448 63,846 44,661 Total 128,467 90,601 90,439

* Includes all developed nations, although by the late 1980s, the majority of these migrants came from Eastern Europe and the former Sovet Union.


The number of international refugees continued to grow after the Cold War ended. Conflicts that followed the collapse of authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union continue to displace citizens, as does new violence in Rwanda and other nations.

Asia: 9,888,800

Major areas Iran: 4,150,700 Pakistan: 1,629,200 Jordan: 1,010,700 Gaza Strip: 560,200West Bank: 459,100Lebanon: 319,400 Syria: 299,200 China: 288,100 India: 258,400 Bangladesh: 245,000 Kuwait: 124,900

Africa: 5,393,200

Major areas Malawi: 1,058,500 Sudan: 725,600 Guinea: 478,500 Ethiopia: 431,800 Kenya: 401,900 Zaire: 391,100 Tanzania: 292,100 Burundi: 271,700 Algeria: 219,300 Uganda: 196,300 Ivory Coast: 174,100

Europe: 4,379,100

Major areas Former Yugoslav Federation: 2,053,500 Germany: 827,100 Sweden: 324,500 Armenia: 300,000 Azerbaijan: 246,000 France: 182,600 Britain: 100,000

North America: 1,041,200

Major areas Canada: 568,200 United States: 473,000

Latin America: 885,500

Major areas Mexico: 361,000 Guatemala: 222,900 Costa Rica: 114,400 Honduras: 100,100

Source: "Global Migration: People on the Move"

Compiled by Times resarcher ANN GRIFFITH

Los Angeles Times Articles