Statistics on international labour migration

In today’s globalized world, labour migration is an increasingly important policy issue. Economic hardship and geopolitical crises leading to the lack of decent work are resulting in growing and diverse migratory movements. In many economies, including emerging economies, ageing populations and declining labour forces are also contributing to the growing mobility of workers. Women are joining migration flows in growing numbers as independent workers, with important consequences for gender equality in countries of origin and destination alike.

We need to understand these dynamic migrant flows and their implications for labour markets, particularly in migrant-dominated sectors.

This page presents statistical information on migrant worker stocks, inflows and outflows. 

Labour migrants at a glance

Global stock of migrants
Labour force participation rate migrants
igrant workers by country income group
Regional distribution of migrant workers

Featured publication

This 2nd edition of the global estimates report on migrant workers provides information on the order of magnitude of labour migration worlwide. It describes and analyses the global and regional estimates of migrant workers by gender, income group and age.


Quick links

ILO and Statistics Korea (KOSTAT) cooperate in implementing a cooperation project for capacity-building and data-sharing on international labour migration in the Asia and the Pacific region covering 25 countries. The first memorandum of understanding signed in 2015 has been successfully implemented from 2015 to 2019. The second memorandum of understanding, covering the 2020-2024 period is being prepared.

SDGs and labour migration

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda Declaration in its paragraph 29 states that: “We recognize the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development. We also recognize that international migration is a multi-dimensional reality of major relevance for the development of countries of origin, transit and destination, which requires coherent and comprehensive responses. We will cooperate internationally to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration involving full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants regardless of migration status, of refugees and of displaced persons.” This objective is further concretized in SDG target 8.8: “Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment” and in SDG target 10.7: “Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”, which both clearly relate to ILO’s mandate as articulated most recently in the fair migration agenda. 

The ILO is the custodian agency for further developing the methodology for two of the SDG target 8.8 indicators concerning occupational safety and health and freedom of association and collective bargaining, both to be disaggregated by sex and migrant status. Together with the World Bank, the ILO is also collecting data and developing a methodology to measure the cost of recruitment, which is one of the indicators under SDG target 10.7.