“The availability of high-quality and internationally comparable data on the size and characteristics of the migrant populations by country of origin is a prerequisite for proper analysis of migration as well as the implementation of effective policies by countries on each side of the migration phenomenon.” (pg 15, Connecting with Emigrants)

It is under this statement that the OECD and Agence Française de Déveoppement (AFD) recently published a report entitled “Connecting with Emigrants: A Global Profile of Diasporas 2015” (Nov 3, 2015). The report looks at 140 countries’ diasporas and how they evolved over a ten-year period.

Below are some of the findings in five categories: migrant flow, skilled labour, women, the OECD region, and Irish-specific trends and data.

Migrant flow

  • Mexico had the highest volume of emigrants, with some 12,052,200 people leaving the country.
  • The US received the most immigrants, at 40,861,900.
  • The report notes that “colonial and cultural ties are very influential”, Latin Americans go to Spain, Sub-Saharan Africans go to France, etc.

Skilled Labour

  • Between 2000/2001 and 2010/2011, there was a 63% rise in the number of highly-skilled workers emigrating.
  • In the 2010/2011 period, 31m highly-skilled workers settled in OECD countries.
  • Many skilled migrants are overqualified in their destination country. In the 2010/2011 period, more than 7.8m tertiary-educated migrants were employed in in low- and middle-income positions. The over-qualification rate for migrants was 36%, versus 24% for native born peoples.
  • Despite the fact that the Sub-Saharan region has the lowest amount of migrants on aggregate, it is at the biggest risk of “brain drain”, with much of the skilled labour force leaving their native country.
  • The US, the UK, and Canada were the three biggest destinations for highly educated workers.


  • Of the 31m highly-skilled workers in the OECD region in 2010/2011, over 50% were women.
  • Between the 2000/2001 period and the 2010/2011, the number of female migrants increased by 42%, compared to 39% for males. In the same period, the number of highly-educated women migrating rose by 80%
  • In every region, women (regardless of skill level) were employed nearly 20% less than their male counterparts.

In the OECD

  • In the 2010/2011 period, there were 113m migrants coming from OECD regions, but intra-OECD movement made up 41% of migration flow.
  • The two greatest sources of migrants (aggregated) were the OECD, followed by Asia and Oceania. Migrants from Asia and Oceania make up roughly 25% of the highly-skilled labour settled in OECD regions.
  • In 2012, 1.7m new OECD migrants settled inside the OECD area. In 2010/1, 42.5m of those over age 15 lived in a different OECD countries than the one they were from. 11m of these were highly educated.
  • The difference between the total number of migrants, and the number of highly educated migrants, is lower in the OECD than in other regions.
  • The report highlights the issue of the aging population profile of the OECD area.
  • Between the 2000/2001 period and the 2010/2011 period, there was very little change to the percentage of men vs women, and age groups, of intra-OECD settlers. However, the number of low-skilled workers reduced from 45% to 37%; the number of medium-skilled workers increased from 34% to 36%; the number of highly-skilled workers increased from 21% to 27%.
  • In the 2010/2011, the total emigration rate of the OECD was 4.1%.
  • OECD migrants settling outside of the OECD area favoured Argentina and Brazil.

Trends for Irish Diaspora

  • Ireland did not even make the table of the 28 countries which lost the most amount of people to emigration. However, a special note was made that in the 2010/2011 period, Ireland had the highest percentage of emigrants, compared to the total population. At the time, Ireland’s emigration rate was 17.4%. In contrast, the US and Japan both had less than 1%.
  • Less than 20,000 Irish migrants settled within the OECD area in 2012, the 23rd lowest amount of all OECD countries.
  • Of Irish women living in an OECD country different from their country of origin, 9% less are employed, versus their male counterparts.