UN World Youth Report



WYR 2013 Chapter One

Origins and Destinations of International Migrants

Voluntary migration for work, study or family reasons is far more prevalent than forced migration. For instance, only 15 out of 232 million international migrants were refugees in 2013. South-South migration is as common as South-North migration, with the number of international migrants in both categories estimated at 82 million in 2013. The majority of young migrants (60 per cent) live in developing countries.

The majority of young migrants (60 per cent) live in developing countries. However, the number of youth migrants aged 15-24 as a percentage of the total youth population varies considerably by development level. In 2013, youth migrants accounted for 9.1 per cent of the total youth population in developed countries, but only 1.4 per cent in developing countries.
Most foreign students (84 per cent) were enrolled in educational institutions in developed countries, with the largest proportion (58 per cent) studying in North America and Western Europe in 2010.  However, the foreign student population has been increasing at a much faster rate in developing countries, more than tripling from 130,000 in 1999 to 443,000 in 2008. Data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that East Asia and the Pacific is the largest source of international students, accounting for 28 per cent of the world total.

Box 1.2 Top sources and destinations of international students

The number of students enrolled in tertiary education abroad rose from 2 million in 2000 to 3.6 million in 2010, an increase of 78 per cent. China, India and the Republic of Korea were the top sources of international students. The United States of America was the most popular destination for foreign students, accounting for 19 per cent of the world total, followed by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (11 per cent), Australia (8 per cent), France (7 per cent), Germany (6 per cent) and Japan (4 per cent). Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2013)





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The UN Focal Point on Youth aims to build awareness of the global situation of young people, as well as promote their rights and aspirations, working toward greater participation of young people in decision-making as a means for achieving peace and development.

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You are here: The 2013 Report Chapter 1: Youth, Migration and Development: Basic Facts Origins and Destinations of International Migrants