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DECRG-Trade Seminar: The Evolution of Global Bilateral Migration 1960-2000

Sponsor: Development Economics and Chief Economist (DEC)

Speaker: Christopher Parsons, University of Nottingham and World Bank


  • Caglar Özden, World Bank
  • Maurice Schiff, World Bank
  • Terrie Walmsley, Purdue University

Abstract: This paper presents global origin-destination matrices of bilateral migrant stocks spanning the period 1960-2000, disaggregated by gender and based primarily on the foreign-born concept. Hundreds of separate census and population register records are combined to estimate decenial matrices corresponding to census rounds for the entire period. In doing so, we provide for the first time a picture of bilateral global migration patterns over the last half of the twentieth century. The data reveal that the global migrant stock more than doubled from 76 to 159 million between 1960 and 2000, but as a percentage of the world population, stayed slightly over 2.5%. South-south migration dominates global trends but this is partially due to millions of migrants created overnight with the break-up of India and Soviet Union. South to north is the fastest growing portion and The United States stays as the most important migrant destination in the world throughout this time period. However, Latin American migrants replaced European migrants as the largest group in the US while intra-European migration dominates Western Europe and  oil-rich Persian Gulf countries emerge as important destinations for migrants from the Middle East and South Asia. Finally, although the global migrant stock is still predominantly male, the percentage of females rose significantly between 1960 and 2000.

For Information: Yasmin D Souza

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