Australia doesn’t seem to have trouble attracting migrants. Over the past decade, the trend of immigrant arrivals has been rising steadily. This week, Gallup released its semi-regular poll about global movement. The results estimate, if people could live anywhere they choose, what the population of each country would be. Lets sprinkle on a heavy pinch of salt to the methodology given the scope of the project, but this is about as good as it gets for an estimate.
The results are somewhat surprising. For Australia, the estimate is an increase of 136 per cent for 2010-12, down from 148 per cent during 2007-09. This means our population of 23 million would increase to ~54 million. I thought this would be a significantly higher figure given the economy, tourism and geography. Perhaps this is a subtle reminder of Australia’s place in the world as opposed to how many of us perceive it.
As a percentage of the population, the country with the largest gain is Saudi Arabia at 218 per cent. This shows how much value people in poorer nations place on the opportunity to work and earn income. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest destinations for low and unskilled labour migrants. However as a total number of people, no country comes close to the United States. While the population increase is only 45 per cent, this translates into about an additional ~140 million people. Further, this number is down 15 per cent from the previously measured period.
At the other end of the scale, Haiti is a -52 per cent, demonstrating the large segment of the population who would likely wish to move to the United States. Sierra Leone follows closely with -51 per cent. As a geographic region, sub-Saharan Africa is a -24 per cent overall. Overall, people wishing to migrate declined to 13 per cent of total global population, driven by reductions in Southern Europe.
There are obviously issues with trying to measure something as diverse as global population movements. However Gallup does policy makers a favour by providing renewed evidence about the pressures which drive global migration, especially the links between economic prosperity and individual security and the desire to move elsewhere.