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Immigration is a global phenomenon that affects millions of people around the world. Whether you are curious about living in a different country, have a friend or relative who moved abroad, or are thinking of doing the same, you might wonder which country takes in the most immigrants and how they are treated there.

One advantage of living in a new country is that you can learn about different cultures, languages, and lifestyles. You can also contribute to the economy and society of your new home and develop new skills and talents.

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Some of the difficulties of living in a new country are that you might face culture shock, discrimination, or isolation.

You might also have to compete with other workers for jobs or resources or deal with security threats or legal issues.

In this guide, we will answer these questions and more by looking at the latest data and trends on international migration. We will also explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people who live in a different country than they were born in.

How Many People Live in a Different Country Than They Were Born In?

According to the United Nations, about 291 million people lived in a different country than they were born in 2023. That’s about 3.7 percent of the world’s population. This number has tripled since 1970 when only 84 million people lived abroad. Most people (74 percent) are between 20 and 64 years old, and almost half (48 percent) are women.

The top five countries where most people come from are India (19 million), Mexico (13 million), China (12 million), Russia (11 million), and Syria (9 million). The top five countries where most people go to are the United States (53 million), Germany (17 million), Saudi Arabia (14 million), Russia (13 million), and the United Kingdom (10 million).

Which Country Takes in the Most Immigrants?

Another way to look at immigration is by seeing how many people from other countries live in a certain country compared to its total population. This shows how diverse and open a country is to immigration. According to the World Bank, the country with the most people from other countries living there in 2020 was the United Arab Emirates, with 88 percent. Almost nine out of ten people in the UAE were not born there. The UAE was followed by Qatar (75 percent), Kuwait (74 percent), Bahrain (52 percent), and Singapore (47 percent).

However, these countries are not necessarily the best places for immigrants to live, as many have strict immigration policies and limited rights for foreign workers. Moreover, some of these countries have small native populations compared to their immigrant people, which makes their percentage of immigrants look higher.

A better way to measure how well a country welcomes and integrates immigrants is by using indexes considering different aspects of immigrant inclusion, such as legal status, access to education, health care, labor market, political participation, and social cohesion. One such index is the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), which covers 52 countries worldwide. According to MIPEX 2020, the top five countries with the best policies for immigrant integration were Sweden, Portugal, Canada, Finland, and New Zealand.

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How Has COVID-19 Affected Migration?

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted people who live in a different country than they were born in. The outbreak of the virus and its fast spread across countries led to unprecedented restrictions on travel and border closures that disrupted international migration flows. 

According to IOM and UN DESA estimates, global migration decreased by about two percent between 2019 and 2020 because of COVID-19.

The pandemic also revealed the problems and inequalities that many migrants and refugees face, especially those who work in important sectors such as health care, agriculture, food production, and delivery services. 

Many migrants lost their jobs or incomes because of lockdowns and economic downturns, while others faced higher risks of infection, discrimination, xenophobia, and exploitation. Moreover, many migrants had trouble accessing health care and social protection services because of their legal status or lack of documentation.

How Can People Moving Across Borders Help Achieve Global Goals?

People move across borders for many reasons, such as seeking better opportunities, escaping violence, or protecting the planet. Their movements are connected to the global goals that the world has set for 2030. 

These goals aim to make the world a more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable place for everyone. People who move can help achieve these goals in many ways.

At the same time, reaching these goals can also help address some reasons people move, such as conflict, violence, poverty, discrimination, and environmental degradation. 

To make the most of the positive effects of people moving across borders, we need to adopt a holistic and human rights-based approach that recognizes the diversity and agency of migrants and refugees, respects their dignity and rights, and addresses their specific needs and vulnerabilities. 

We also need to work together with all the actors involved in migration governance, including governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia, and migrants themselves.

Bottomline

Immigration is a complex and dynamic phenomenon that affects millions of people around the world. It can bring benefits and challenges for both immigrants and host countries. Knowing which country takes in the most immigrants and how they are treated there can help you understand more about this global issue and make informed decisions about your own migration plans.

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I'm Ian, a travel blogger with a background in publishing. My hobby is exploring new places, and here, I share my discoveries from quaint towns and bustling cities. Each trip inspires my next post, inviting you to join me on this exciting journey.