Topic 1: Main countries of origin and root causes of migration to EU

  • As a general note, migration has become much more diverse in terms of origins of migrants. Both in international and European level, most migration flows are intra-continental.
  • The number of refugees is constantly being increased all over the world. A big share of refugees seek their harbor destination in neighbor countries.
  • Since 2015, with the so-called “refugees and migrant crisis”, Europe has dealt with increasing numbers of asylum seekers.
  • In numbers, in 2018, European countries have received 26,852 refugees through national and EU programs.
  • At the same time, thousands of migrants that have found to be presented in the EU illegally return annually to their countries of origin, whereas many more return voluntarily as long as their circumstances change (e.g. end of studies, family reasons, employment).

Root causes and drivers of migration are mainly distinguished between push and pull factors. Push factors, such as violence, persecution, or famine, are mainly identified in cases of ‘forced’ migration. Pull factors, such as better wages, salaries or solid safety nets attracting individuals to a foreign country, are dominant to voluntary migration.

Among the most widely distinguished macro drivers of migration are:

  • Demographic trends,
  • Conflict/insecurity,
  • Climate change,
  • Existing migrant networks,
  • Geographical and historical factors

The factors that play a central role in individual and non ‘forced’ migration decisions are:

  • Income related,
  • Skills related,
  • Aspirations,
  • Risk management

A snapshot on the main countries of origin:

According to the International Migrant Stock 2019, a dataset released by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA):

In 2019, regionally, Europe hosts the largest number of international migrants (82 million), followed by Northern America (59 million) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (49 million).

Concerning their place of birth, one-third of all international migrants originate from only ten countries, with India as the lead country of origin, accounting for about 18 million persons living abroad. Migrants from Mexico constituted the second largest “diaspora” (12 million), followed by China (11 million), the Russian Federation (10 million) and the Syrian Arab Republic (8 million).

Watch the Video regarding

Twenty countries or areas of origin with the largest diaspora populations (millions).

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs