International migration

The share of migrant flows from the Asia/Pacific region to OECD countries among total inflows to the OECD (around 29%) is unchanged, even though the absolute number doubled between 2000 and 2019 (Figure 2.10). More than half of the Asian immigrants to the OECD came from China, India and Viet Nam in 2019. In 2019, migrants from the Asia/Pacific region had relatively high employment rates, for example in Canada (73.3%), the EU 28 (65.8%), and the United States (71.4%), but the situation differs sharply across migrant groups and countries of origin within the region (OECD, 2015[1]). Women are less likely to be employed than men, and employment rates of migrants increase significantly with the level of education (OECD, 2015[1]).

The deployment of labour migrants decreased drastically across the Asia/Pacific region in 2020, due to the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (Figure 2.11). Especially in the beginning of the pandemic, worker deployments were suddenly suspended and barely picked up at the end of 2020. For example, in Bangladesh, the outflow of workers dropped to almost zero for months and did not significantly resume before December 2020. In Indonesia, it started to recover earlier than in Bangladesh, but in both countries, the end-of-year level was below half of what it was in December 2019 (OECD/ADBI/ILO, 2021[2]).

Remittance flows to Asia and the Pacific have continuously increased since 2000, but not in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of all remittances sent to Asian/Pacific countries in 2020, more than half went to India (27%), China (19%), and the Philippines (11%) (Figure 2.12). Remittances sent by Asian/Pacific migrants to their countries of origin amounted to USD 311 billion in 2020, accounting for more than two-thirds of all global remittance flows (USD 700 billion). Remittances constitute a significant share of gross domestic product in some of the countries of origin, as, for example, in Kyrgyzstan (29%), Nepal (24%), Tajikistan (27%) and Tonga (38%).


[3] OECD (2021), International Migration Outlook 2021, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[1] OECD (2015), Connecting with Emigrants, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[2] OECD/ADBI/ILO (2021), Labor Migration in Asia: Impacts of the COVID-19 Crisis and the Post-Pandemic Future, OECD Publishing, Paris/Asian Development Bank Institute, Tokyo,

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