Despite being home to the maximum number of foreign-born individuals, there are 64 countries ahead of the USA that have a higher proportion of foreign-born residents compared to the total population.
In absolute terms, the USA is home to 45.7 million foreign-born individuals (2013 data), which is the highest in the world. However, the UN report titled Trends in International Migrant Stock indicates that a wide range of countries—from tax havens to nations with lenient refugee policies—rank above the United States of America.
Foreign-born individuals constitute 14.3% of the population of the United States of America. In settler nations, namely Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, foreign-born residents constitute 27.7%, 25.1%, and 20.7% of the national population.
Citizens of the UK continue to constitute the biggest chunk of immigrants in Australia. However, instances of immigration from Asian countries are one the rise post the enactment of the Racial Discrimination Act in 1975 that marked the end of the infamous White Australia Policy. Increase in migration from China, especially wealthy investment immigrants, has led to Chinese constituting 1.8% of Australia’s population.
A three-fold increase in migration from India in the past decade has resulted in more than 337,000 individuals migrating Down Under. Vietnamese migrants form the next biggest chunk and constitute 0.9% of the population.
Australia owes its popularity amongst migrants primarily to the economic opportunities available to citizens and migrants alike. August 2014 saw around 121,000 new jobs being added to the economy, which was the highest in the past thirty years.
While Australia welcomes skilled migrants, its approach towards those seeking refuge and asylum in the country has come under criticism in recent times. The recent move to outsource its refugees to Cambodia drew sharp criticism from the international community. The move highlighted the challenges faced by migrants in Australia.
In Europe, Sweden now has 15.9% of its population consisting of migrants. Considering how the issue of migration quickly attracts nationalistic and even xenophobic rhetoric, it remains to be seen how Sweden handles the economic and political implications of the rapid growth of migrant population. Along to Sweden, Ireland too has a higher ratio of foreign-born residents as compared to the USA.
Ireland has been a preferred destination for Muslims with Muslim residents of Arab and Balkan countries migrating to this European country. As compared to 0.1% of the total population in 1991, Muslims constitute 1.1% of Ireland’s population today. By 2043, Islam could displace Protestantism, which constitutes 5% of the Irish population as of 2011, and become Ireland’s second-most popular religion.
A host of other European nations like Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, and the UK have larger net inflow of migrants as compared to the USA. Even countries like Croatia and Estonia, which average per capita GDP of around a third of the USA, score better than the USA with respect to the proportion of foreign-born residents.
Tax havens have always attracted wealthy migrants and countries like Monaco, Andorra, Luxembourg, and Singapore have significantly high proportion of residents born in foreign countries. Close to 65% of Monaco’s population is foreign-born while the figure ranges between 43% to 57% for the other three nations.
Investment immigration is fast becoming a useful method for nations trying to lure foreign investment. St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica offer citizenship in exchange for investment while Austria offers a visa with EU access in exchange for investment. Not surprisingly, close to 16% of Austria’s population consists of foreign-born individuals.
Gulf States have a high ratio of foreign-born individuals as well. More than 80% of the population of countries like the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain are foreign-born individuals. However, the immigrant population consists of migrant workers who are often subject to slavery-like working conditions.
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