Women comprised slightly less than half of all international migrants. The share of women in the total number of international migrants fell from 49.3% in 2000 to 47.9% in 2019. The share of migrant women varied across regions. Female migrants outnumber male migrants in the North, whereas male migrants outnumber female migrants in the South. In 2019, 47.9% of all international migrants were women, but that percentage ranged from 43.4% in the less developed regions to 51.5% in the more developed regions. In 2019, the percentage of females among all international migrants was highest in Northern America (51.8%) and Europe (51.4%). Oceania (50.4%), Latin America and the Caribbean (49.9%), Central and Southern Asia (49.4%), and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (49.3%) hosted an almost equal proportion of female and male migrants. The proportion of female migrants was lowest in sub-Saharan Africa (47.5%) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (35.5%).
Between 2000 and 2019, the percentage of female migrants increased in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Southern Asia, Oceania and Northern America, while it decreased in Northern Africa and Western Asia, Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe. These regional differences result from a combination of factors, such as varying levels of labour migration, population ageing of migrants and forced migration.
Female migrants as a share of all international migrants, 2000, 2010 and 2019
Globally, the proportion of migrants between 20 and 64 years of age increased from 69% in 1990 to 74% in 2010 and has remained at that level since. For women, the change has been from 68% in 1990 to 72% in 2019, while for men it has increased from 71% to 76%.
One out of every seven international migrants was below the age of 20. In 2019, the number of international migrants below age 20 reached 38 million, or 13.9% of the global migrant stock. Sub-Saharan Africa hosted the highest proportion of young persons among all international migrants (27.3%), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern Africa and Western Asia (21.6% each). The share of those under age 20 among all migrants was smaller in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (13.3%), Central and Southern Asia (13.2%), Oceania (11%), Europe, and Northern America (8.8% each).
The percentage of older migrants, 65 years or over, has remained stable since 1990 at around 10% for older men, 14% for older women and 12% for both sexes combined. The percentage of young migrants under 20 years of age has declined from 19% in 1990 to 14% in 2019.
Older migrants outnumber younger migrants in the North, whereas younger migrants outnumber older migrants in the South. In 2019, 20% of all international migrants in the South were under the age of 20 years, compared to less than 8% for migrants aged 65 years or over. In contrast, in the North, the share of the migrant population aged 65 years or over was much higher (15%) than the share of migrants under 20 years (9%).
Distribution of international migrants by broad age groups, 1990 to 2019
The median age of international migrants worldwide was 39 years in 2019. International migrants living in sub-Saharan Africa were the youngest, with a median age of 30.9 years in 2019, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (33.8 years), Northern Africa and Western Asia (34.0 years), and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (35.7 years). In contrast, migrants were older in Central and Southern Asia (40.8 years), Europe (42.7 years), Oceania (42.9 years), and Northern America (43.5 years).
Age and sex distribution of international migrants by region, 2019 (percentage)
SOURCES: IOM, UN DESA
IMAGE CREDIT: IOM