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. 

Table of Contents

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.

Data

Partners for more and better data

Statistics Korea (KOSTAT) logo

ILO and Statistics Korea (KOSTAT) cooperate in implementing a cooperation project for capacity-building and data-sharing on international ang signed in 2015 has been successfully implemented from 2015 to 2019. The second memorandum of understanding, covering the 2020-2024 period is currently in place. 

Analysis

ILO Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers: Results and Methodology

ILO Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers – Results and Methodology

This report gives global and regional estimates, broken down by income group, gender and age. It also describes the data, sources and methodology used, as well as the corresponding limitations. The report seeks to contribute to the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and to achieving SDG targets 8.8 and 10.7.


International labour migration statistics in South Asia: Establishing a subregional database and improving data collection for evidence-based policy-making

International labour migration statistics in South Asia: Establishing a subregional database and improving data collection for evidence-based policy-making

This report provides a comprehensive analysis of statistics related to extraregional labour migration of South Asian nationals, referring to those migrating outside of the subregion from the following eight countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Where applicable and relevant to the statistical discussion, this report also includes conversations on developments and trends in extraregional labour migration, migrant worker attributes (such as sex, skill level, occupation, country of destination, method of recruitment and more) and associated thematic areas (such as remittances) in South Asia.


Labour Migration Statistics in Africa

Report on Labour Migration Statistics in Africa in 2015

The broad objective of the report is to compile data on labour migration and support Member States in better understanding the data for the purpose of policy formulation.


Methods

Guidelines concerning statistics of international labour migration

Guidelines concerning statistics of international labour migration

Adopted by the 20th ICLS (2018), these guidelines aim at supporting countries to develop their national statistics on international labour migration and at encouraging them to test the conceptual framework suggested in the guidelines.


ILO Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers: Results and Methodology

ILO Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers – Results and Methodology

This report gives global and regional estimates, broken down by income group, gender and age. It also describes the data, sources and methodology used, as well as the corresponding limitations. The report seeks to contribute to the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and to achieving SDG targets 8.8 and 10.7.



Sources and Methods Volume 9: International labour migration (2020)

This volume presents the sources and methods used in the compilation of international labour migration statistics, based on the ILO metadata survey conducted in 2015-2016 in ILO Member countries and territories.


Statistics on international labour migration: A review of sources and methodological issues

Statistics on international migration: A review of sources and methodological issues

This report discusses the possibilities and problems faced by those responsible for the development of statistics on migrant workers; and by the users when they need to evaluate the quality of the statistical data which are available.


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.

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Use filters above the table

Select a frequency to find monthly, quarterly, or annual indicators. While all indicators are available for annual periods, only a subset are available as monthly or quarterly. You can also filter the database or use the search feature to enter key words.

Options to access data

Data available in the Excel summary files are for indicators only (not available for countries or regions) for selected classification items for 2010 onward for annual data and 2018 onward for short-term indicators. For historical data or additional classifications, either use the Data Explorer or download the CSV file. 

Download a zipped CSV file (gzip) to get data in bulk. These files contain only codes. Download the dictionary with labels here

There are other options to access data in the data tools section

The option provides an intuitive interface to filter the selection, including for all available breakdowns (e.g., sex and age), and export the data into various formats.