|Emigrants From Pakistan 1990-2019. Source: Pakistan Bureau of Emigration|
Over 11 million Pakistanis have left home for employment in Europe, America, Middle East and elsewhere since 1971, according to Pakistan Bureau of Emigration. The pace has particularly picked up over the last 10 years with over half a million Pakistanis migrating abroad each year. This phenomenon has helped reduce unemployment in a country where about 2 million young people are entering the job market each year.
|Emigrants From Pakistan 1971-2019. Source: Pakistan Bureau of Emigration|
More Pakistanis have migrated overseas in the last 9 years (2011-2019) than in previous 30 years (1971-2010). The average figure has been about 500,000 each year since 2011. The highest was 946,571 in 2015 while the lowest was 382,439 in 2018. These figures do not include Pakistanis who went abroad for education and never returned.
Remittance inflows from Pakistani diaspora have jumped 21-fold from about $1 billion in year 2000 to $21 billion in 2018, according to the World Bank. In terms of GDP, these inflows have soared nearly 7X from about 1% in year 2000 to 6.9% of GDP in 2018.
|Composition of Pakistan Emigrants. Infographic Courtesy of Gulf News|
Myths About Emigration:
A common myth about emigration is that it is driven by poverty. But the fact is that the poorest and least developed people tend to stay put where they are; they do not migrate. It's only people who have a certain level of income and skills who are more likely to migrate to other countries for better opportunities. This fact has been well-established by multiple studies conducted in Africa.
Here's an except of African Development Bank report on migration:
"Results show that despite increase in the absolute number of migrants, Africa, particularly SubSaharan Africa has one of the lowest rate of emigration in the world .... Poorer countries generally have lower rate of emigration ......Bad socio-economic conditions generally seem to lead to higher rate of emigration by highly skilled individuals. Generally, migration is driven by motives to improve livelihoods with notable evidence on changes in labor market status. Often, self-employed or unemployed émigré ended up in wage employment. The paper outlines policy issues emerging from the migration trend in Africa."
|Migration vs Human Development Source: Hein de Haas|
Data shows that increased human and economic development is initially associated with increasing emigration. Any form of development in the poorest countries of the world is therefore likely to lead to accelerating emigration. Such findings contradict conventional thinking and force us to radically change our views on migration. Such rethinking can be achieved by learning to see migration as an intrinsic part of broader development processes rather than as a problem to be solved, or the temporary response to development “disequilibria”, according to The Conversation, a US publication.
Migration to Non-English Speaking OECD Nations:
|Pakistani Migration to Non-English Speaking OECD Nations in 2016. Source: OECD|
Internal migration in Pakistan far exceeds external migration. Estimates from the 2014-2015 Labor Force Survey (LFS) indicate that the internal migrant population is roughly four times larger than the emigrant population. This means that some 13% of the Pakistani population is an internal migrant, according to Pakistan Migration Snapshot published in August, 2019.
Like most developing nations, the internal migration in Pakistan is linked to the differences in level of development between urban and rural regions with people moving for better employment and to overcome poverty. Pakistan has also experienced many natural hazards, which have caused numerous waves of internal displacement and internal migration (Sadia et al., 2017; Cibea et al, 2013).
Pakistan is in the midst massive migration, both internal and external. Over half a million Pakistanis are migrating overseas while about 2 million are migrating internally from rural to urban areas. These trends are transforming the nation. Overseas remittances are soaring. Pakistan is becoming more urban. The country is also seeing growing foreign cultural influences from both the West and the Middle East.
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