UN Report: Last Decade Saw 16.5 Million Pakistanis Migrate Overseas

Among 10 countries with the estimated net outflow of migrants exceeding 1 million over the period from 2010 through 2021, Pakistan saw 16.5 million migrants move overseas, the highest in the world, according to a report titled "World Population Prospects 2022" released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). 

Pakistani Workers' Overseas Migration Data (2010-2021). Source: Bureau of Emigration

In many of these countries with more than one million people leaving, the outflows were due to temporary labor movements, such as for Pakistan (net outflow of 16.5 million), India (3.5 million), Bangladesh, (2.9 million), Nepal (1.6 million) and Sri Lanka (1.0 million).  The report also said that India's population will surpass China's in 2023. Over half of the global population increase up to 2050 will be in just 8 countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines & Tanzania.

Population Sizes of China, India and Pakistan 1950-2099. Source: Our World in Data
 
The figure of 16.5 million migrants outflow from Pakistan is much higher than the numbers reported by the Bureau of Emigration & Overseas Employment of the Government of Pakistan. A possible source of discrepancy is the uncounted numbers of the family members who accompany workers going abroad for work.  
 
Between 2010 and 2021, 40 countries or territories have experienced a net inflow of more than 200,000 migrants; in 17 of those, the total net inflow exceeded 1 million people. In 2020, Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees and asylum seekers worldwide (nearly 4 million),followed by Jordan (3 million), the State of Palestine (2 million) and Colombia (1.8 million). Other major destination countries of refugees, asylum seekers or other persons displaced abroad were Germany,  Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Uganda and the United States of America. 
 
Top Remittance Receiving Countries in 2021. Source: World Bank

Pakistan has received nearly $31 billion in worker remittances in 2021, up a whopping 20% from the prior year, according to the World Bank. This is a new record representing nearly 10% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). This money helps the nation cope with its perennial current account deficits. It also provides a lifeline for millions of Pakistani families who use the money to pay for food, education, healthcare and housing. This results in an increase in stimulus spending that has a multiplier effect in terms of employment in service industries ranging from retail sales to restaurants and entertainment. 

Remittances from the European Union (EU) to Pakistan soared 49.7% in FY 21 and 28.3% in FY22, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. With $2.5 billion remittances in the first 9 months (July-March) of the current fiscal year, the EU ($2.5 billion) has now surpassed North America ($2.2 billion) to become the third largest source of inflows to Pakistan after the Middle East and the United Kingdom. Remittances from the US have grown 21%, second fastest after the EU (28.3%) in the first 9  months of the current fiscal year. 

Pakistan's share of the working age population (15-64 years) is growing as the country's birth rate declines, a phenomenon called demographic dividend. This dividend is manifesting itself in high levels of worker exports and record remittances pouring into the country. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates(UAE) are the top two sources of remittances but the biggest increase (58%) in remittances is seen this year from Pakistanis in the next two sources: the United Kingdom and the United States. 

Over 10 million Pakistanis are currently working/living overseas, according to the Bureau of Emigration. Before the COVID19 pandemic hit in 2020,  more than 600,000 Pakistanis left the country to work overseas in 2019. The average yearly outflow of Pakistani workers to OECD countries (mainly UK and US) and the Middle East has been over half a million in the last decade. 
 
Pakistan ranks 6th among the top worker remittance recipient countries in the world.  India and China rank first and second, followed by Mexico 3rd, the Philippines 4th, Egypt 5th and Pakistan 6th.  
 
Pakistan Demographics
About two million Pakistanis are entering the workforce every year. The share of the working age population in Pakistan is increasing while the birth rate is declining. This phenomenon, known as demographic dividend, is coinciding with declines in working age populations in developed countries. It is creating an opportunity for over half a million Pakistani workers to migrate and work overseas, and send home record remittances. 
Projected Population Decline in Emerging Economies. Source: Nikkei Asia

common myth about emigration is that it is driven by poverty. But the fact is that the poorest and least developed people tend to stay put where they are; they do not migrate. It's only people who have a certain level of income and skills who are more likely to migrate to other countries for better opportunities. This fact has been well-established by multiple studies conducted in Africa.

Here's an except of African Development Bank report on migration:

"Results show that despite increase in the absolute number of migrants, Africa, particularly SubSaharan Africa has one of the lowest rate of emigration in the world .... Poorer countries generally have lower rate of emigration ......Bad socio-economic conditions generally seem to lead to higher rate of emigration by highly skilled individuals. Generally, migration is driven by motives to improve livelihoods with notable evidence on changes in labor market status. Often, self-employed or unemployed émigré ended up in wage employment. The paper outlines policy issues emerging from the migration trend in Africa."

Migration vs Human Development Source: Hein de Haas











Data shows that increased human and economic development is initially associated with increasing emigration. Any form of development in the poorest countries of the world is therefore likely to lead to accelerating emigration. Such findings contradict conventional thinking and force us to radically change our views on migration. Such rethinking can be achieved by learning to see migration as an intrinsic part of broader development processes rather than as a problem to be solved, or the temporary response to development “disequilibria”, according to The Conversation, a US publication.

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  • Riaz Haq

    In 2021, over 160,000 #Indians renounced citizenship, highest in past 5 years. 78,000 took #US citizenship. #Australia 23,533, #Canada 21,597, #UK 14,637, #Italy 5,986, #Netherlands 2187, #NewZealand 2643, #Singapore 2516, #Pakistan 41 and #Nepal 10. #Modi https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/in-2021-over-16-lakh-indians...

    The number is the highest in the past five years, U.S. being the country whose citizenship is most sought after
    Over 1.6 lakh Indians renounced their citizenship in 2021, highest in the past five years, according to information provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Over 78,000 Indians acquired U.S. citizenship, the highest among all other countries, by giving up Indian citizenship. India does not allow dual citizenship. As many as 362 Indians living in China also acquired Chinese citizenship.

    Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, responding to a question by Fazlur Rehman, said in a written reply that “individuals renounced Indian citizenship for reasons personal to them.”

    In 2018, MHA revised Form XXII under Citizenship Rules and included a column on “circumstances/reasons due to which applicant intends to acquire foreign citizenship and renounce Indian citizenship.”

    The reply stated that the number of Indians living in Australia who relinquished their citizenship stood at 23,533, Canada- 21,597, U.K.-14,637, Italy-5,986, Netherlands- 2187, New Zealand- 2643, Singapore- 2516, U.S.A.- 78284, Pakistan-41 and Nepal-10.

    A reply furnished by the ministry in 2021 said that the number of Indians who gave up citizenship in the years 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 stood at 1,33,049, 1,34,561, 1,44,017 and 85,248 respectively.

  • Riaz Haq

    The Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan Kuninori Matsuda told journalists last Friday that Japan would add Pakistan to the list of nine other world countries eligible to apply for Japan employment visas.

    While the employment scheme was initially announced for 9 countries – Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Cambodia, and China – Pakistan may soon become the 10 country part of the list.

    According to Ambassador Matsuda, Japan is about to open the working visas for skilled workers from Pakistan, in a bid to tackle the aging and shrinking population of the country.

    https://visaguide.world/news/japan/japan-to-offer-work-visas-to-ski...

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    Japan will make it easier to bring in talented foreign workers to regions outside the metropolitan areas by offering a fast-track path to permanent residency.

    The government will revise a point system that grades individuals based on annual income, educational backgrounds and job experience. Those with high scores receive preferential treatment.

    Now the government will add points for working at companies promoted by local communities. The government had rolled out the program on a trial basis in Hiroshima Prefecture and Kitakyushu and will now expand it nationwide.

    The aim is to attract such specialists as researchers, engineers and business managers. Many companies in rural areas are facing a need for transformation in response to digitalization and decarbonization. In Hiroshima Prefecture, for example, semiconductor developers are trying to invite engineers.

    An applicant whose point total reaches 70 will qualify for "highly specialized profession" status, and the period of stay in Japan required to obtain permanent residence will be shortened to three years from 10. At 80 points, only one year will be required. Parents and domestic servants will be allowed to come along, and spouses will be permitted to work.

    Working in a local company will be worth 10 points and treated the same as having annual income of 10 million yen or more as a manager.

    The number of workers certified as highly specialized reached 31,451 at the end of 2021. The number continue to rise despite the pandemic. By nationality, Chinese accounted for approximately 70% as of the end of 2020, followed by Indians at 6% and Americans at 5%.

    Currently, daily arrivals are capped at 20,000 in response to COVID-19. The government is trying to lay the groundwork for stepped-up recruitment of foreign nationals in a post-coronavirus era.

    It will also try to find smaller local companies seeking foreign talent with the help of the Japan External Trade Organization. In fiscal 2021, JETRO helped companies hire 180 people.

    https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Japan-immigration/Japan-s-small-c...

  • Riaz Haq

    World #Population Is About to Hit 8 Billion—Some Argue It Is Near Its Peak. Demographers’ forecasts vary and are based on assumptions such as how well-educated and healthy people will be, especially #women. #Africa #heath #education #development #fertility https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-population-is-about-to-hit-8-bi...

    But as we cross eight billion people, it is worth considering that the world might never make it to 10 billion, or even nine billion, and that the world’s major demographic problems won’t stem from the growing masses but from shrinking countries, aging populations and dwindling workforces.

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    Later this year—any day now really—the global population is projected to cross eight billion people. The United Nations recently pegged the date as Nov. 15, but we don’t know with any exact precision.

    Since the 1960s, when the global number of people first hit three billion, it has taken a bit over a decade to cross each new billion-person milestone, and so it might seem natural to assume that nine billion humans and then 10 billion are, inexorably, just around the corner. That is exactly what the latest population projections from the U.N. and the U.S. Census Bureau have calculated.

    But as we cross eight billion people, it is worth considering that the world might never make it to 10 billion, or even nine billion, and that the world’s major demographic problems won’t stem from the growing masses but from shrinking countries, aging populations and dwindling workforces.

    We aren’t talking about meteor strikes, alien invasions or apocalyptic scenarios (though, of course, that could do it, too) but rather straightforward demographic projections that conclude that birthrates have been falling so rapidly around the world that we could potentially reach the peak of human population in less than a generation.

    The U.N.’s projections are the best known. But an alternate set of projections has been gaining attention in recent years, spearheaded by the demographer Wolfgang Lutz, under the auspices of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital at the University of Vienna, of which Mr. Lutz is founding director.

    These forecasts project the population peak is closer and lower. A look at the assumptions behind the forecasts shows they are hardly implausible.

    “There’s two big questions,” Mr. Lutz explains, that determine whether his forecasts or the U.N.’s end up closer to the mark. “First, how rapidly fertility will decline in Africa…. The other question is China, and countries with very low fertility, if they will recover and how fast they will recover.”

    The U.N. projects population using historical trends for each country, and calculating how other countries in similar conditions fared in the past.

    Lyman Stone, the director of research for the population consulting firm Demographic Intelligence, compares this methodology to technical analysis in stocks, a method of looking for historical patterns and predicting if they are likely to recur.

    The Wittgenstein forecasts, by contrast, look not only at historical patterns, but attempt to ask why birthrates rise and fall. A big factor, not formally included in the U.N.’s models, is education levels. Put simply: As people, especially women, have greater opportunities to pursue education, they have smaller families. (U.N. demographer Vladimíra Kantorová said the U.N.’s approach implicitly accounts for development, urbanization, women’s education and contraceptive use since it relies on historical data from countries that underwent similar transitions.)

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    The U.N. projects Africa’s population will grow from 1.3 billion today to 3.9 billion by century’s end.

    Once education is accounted for, Wittgenstein’s baseline scenario projects Africa’s population will rise to 2.9 billion during that time period. In another scenario from Wittgenstein, which it calls the “rapid development” scenario, the population of Africa will only reach 1.7 billion by century’s end.