The number of Indians living abroad has risen from 66 lakh in 1990 to 175 lakh in 2019. This makes India the leading country of origin for international migrants, according to United Nations International Migrant Stock 2019 data, published on September 18.

The data was released by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and is based on official statistics of foreign populations obtained from censuses, population registers and nationally representative surveys.

Where are Indians migrating to?

Of the 2,720 lakh international migrants this year, 175 lakh were Indians. The Indian diaspora has been steadily growing. The places to which Indians have chosen to migrate, however, has changed quite significantly over the past 30 years.

Fewer people migrating to India than before

The dataset does not contain figures on illegal immigration, but does measure the number of refugees – including asylum seekers – who reside in India. Their number has stayed constant at about 2 lakh for the past 30 years, while the number of international migrants has significantly declined.

International migrants make up just about 0.4% of India’s population, a decline from 0.9% in 1990.

The international migrants in India are almost all from neighbouring countries. Thirty one lakh of them are from Bangladesh.

Globally, migration is increasing

Global migration has risen to 3.5% of the world’s population, up from 2.8% in the year 2000. The United States of America hosts the largest migrant population, followed by Germany and Saudi Arabia.

Three out of every four international migrants are of working age (20-64 years) which suggests that many people move countries in search of work and better opportunities.